Metabolic responses of upper-body accelerometer-controlled video games in adults

Leah C Stroud, William E Amonette, Terry L Dupler
Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism 2010, 35 (5): 643-9
Historically, video games required little physical exertion, but new systems utilize handheld accelerometers that require upper-body movement. It is not fully understood if the metabolic workload while playing these games is sufficient to replace routine physical activity. The purpose of this study was to quantify metabolic workloads and estimate caloric expenditure while playing upper-body accelerometer-controlled and classic seated video games. Nineteen adults completed a peak oxygen consumption treadmill test followed by an experimental session where exercising metabolism and ventilation were measured while playing 3 video games: control (CON), low activity (LOW) and high activity (HI). Resting metabolic measures (REST) were also acquired. Caloric expenditure was estimated using the Weir equation. Mean oxygen consumption normalized to body weight for HI condition was greater than LOW, CON, and REST. Mean oxygen consumption normalized to body weight for LOW condition was also greater than CON and REST. Mean exercise intensities of oxygen consumption reserve for HI, LOW, and CON were 25.8% ± 5.1%, 6.4% ± 4.8%, and 0.8% ± 2.4%, respectively. Estimated caloric expenditure during the HI was significantly related to aerobic fitness, but not during other conditions. An active video game significantly elevated oxygen consumption and heart rate, but the increase was dependent on the type of game. The mean oxygen consumption reserve during the HI video game was below recommended international standards for moderate and vigorous activity. Although upper-body accelerometer-controlled video games provided a greater exercising stimulus than classic seated video games, these data suggest they should not replace routine moderate or vigorous exercise.

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