Study Concludes Exercise Games Aren't Helping Kids

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Study Concludes Exercise Games Aren't Helping Kids

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Scientists say it'll take a lot more than Wii Fit to help children stay active and healthy.

If you're of the camp that thinks playing games like Dance Dance Revolution will help gamers young and old stay in shape, think again. A new study disputes the claims that exercise games like Wii Sports encourage more active behavior in kids, and instead reveals they're more likely to slack off in other ways to make up for playing hours of Wii Fit.

The study, conducted by the Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas chose several children ranging from 9 to 12-years-of-age who had a body mass index that was above average and lived in vidoegame console free households. Each child was given a Nintendo Wii, and randomly divided into two separate test groups. One group was given access to two of the "most physically demanding games" on the market like EA Sports Active and Wii Fit Plus . The other half were given options to play more passive titles like Disney Sing It: Pop Hits and Madden NFL 10. All of the test participants wore accelerometers to measure their physical activity over a 13-week period, but weren't given instructions on how often they should exercise with the games.

After it was all said and done, scientists found "no evidence that children receiving the active videogames were more active in general, or at any time, than children receiving the inactive videogames." In fact, the study revealed that kids who played exercise games end up forsaking other physical actives and didn't burn off any more calories than usual.

Moral of the story? Exercise games are fun and all, but if you're really looking to get yourself (or your kids) in shape, getting away from the TV and involved in actual sports appear to remain the best option.

Source: The New York Times

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I conclude that studies that waste money telling kids not to bother exercising with their game consoles to be unhelpful to the public.

instead reveals they're more likely to slack off in other ways to make up for playing hours of Wii Fit.

....and this only happens with exercising with game consoles? I'll bet after running a lap around the football field that kids also slack off.

its the thought that counts?

Parents need to realize that getting a kid to be more active will, more often than not, mean making them be more active. That is to say, they will not want to. Just like they don't want to eat vegetables or do chores.

So what do you do in those cases? You make them do it. Because it's important for their health and eventual independence that they build good habits early on. And you know what? Someday they'll thank y--No, I'm lying. They'll hate you for it while you're doing it, and later on they'll probably not say a thing and just pretend it was all their doing. But you'll know that you helped make them healthier, even if it was against their will.

You know why? Because they are children. What the hell do they know about what they need? Why are you constantly bringing them into the decision-making process on important things like this, and then acting confused when they "decide" not to do the way that requires more effort and less fun?

You're a parent. That means you're obligated by the universe to be Bad Cop most of the time. Because when they hit 18, the universe is going to take over that role for you, whether they're ready or not. And if you don't like that, guess what? You didn't want to be a Parent. You wanted to be an Uncle (or Aunt).

Maybe you should have told them TO exercise with the games?

If I was a kid forced to play EA Sports Active, Wii Fit Plus, Disney Sing It: Pop Hits and Madden NFL 10 I'd want to curl up into a ball and not move too.

They should include Dance Central in their study.

WMDogma:
Moral of the story? Exercise games are fun and all, but if you're really looking to get yourself (or your kids) in shape, getting away from the TV and involved in actual sports appear to remain the best option.

No, moral of the story is that you completely missed the point of this study. It was that kids are lazy and don't play Wii Fit or those other games when they could be playing something else. Kids don't give a crap about exercise, and using that very simple strand of common sense to say that Wii Fit and other such games aren't going to help you get fit is beyond asinine.

Thanks for reminding me why I stopped reading the news on this site regularly, though. You guys constantly twist things around and draw conclusions that make no sense based on the content of the article.

Dastardly:
Parents need to realize that getting a kid to be more active will, more often than not, mean making them be more active. That is to say, they will not want to. Just like they don't want to eat vegetables or do chores.

So what do you do in those cases? You make them do it. Because it's important for their health and eventual independence that they build good habits early on. And you know what? Someday they'll thank y--No, I'm lying. They'll hate you for it while you're doing it, and later on they'll probably not say a thing and just pretend it was all their doing. But you'll know that you helped make them healthier, even if it was against their will.

You know why? Because they are children. What the hell do they know about what they need? Why are you constantly bringing them into the decision-making process on important things like this, and then acting confused when they "decide" not to do the way that requires more effort and less fun?

You're a parent. That means you're obligated by the universe to be Bad Cop most of the time. Because when they hit 18, the universe is going to take over that role for you, whether they're ready or not. And if you don't like that, guess what? You didn't want to be a Parent. You wanted to be an Uncle (or Aunt).

See, now this guy, he's intelligent. I say let this guy write some news articles.

Dastardly:
Parents need to realize that getting a kid to be more active will, more often than not, mean making them be more active. That is to say, they will not want to. Just like they don't want to eat vegetables or do chores.

So what do you do in those cases? You make them do it. Because it's important for their health and eventual independence that they build good habits early on. And you know what? Someday they'll thank y--No, I'm lying. They'll hate you for it while you're doing it, and later on they'll probably not say a thing and just pretend it was all their doing. But you'll know that you helped make them healthier, even if it was against their will.

You know why? Because they are children. What the hell do they know about what they need? Why are you constantly bringing them into the decision-making process on important things like this, and then acting confused when they "decide" not to do the way that requires more effort and less fun?

You're a parent. That means you're obligated by the universe to be Bad Cop most of the time. Because when they hit 18, the universe is going to take over that role for you, whether they're ready or not. And if you don't like that, guess what? You didn't want to be a Parent. You wanted to be an Uncle (or Aunt).

oh how I wait to see the high and mighty come in here to tell you your wrong, and that logic always applies with kids and they will always do what they are told if your honest and explain things to them. You will be cut down for such 'awful' ways to treat a child.

*grabs popcorn*

OT:

*insert "you don't say" image here*

Seriously it's not that hard to drag a kid outside and find some form of exercise for their fatass maybe an hour a day, if that. Being lazy and buying these games does not help that.

*insert quote about americans being lazy and fat here and using the television as a babysitter*

mjc0961:
See, now this guy, he's intelligent. I say let this guy write some news articles.

Wouldn't go that far, man. I think this article handled things fairly, in that it introduced the study and got discussion going. I took it a step further, because education is my career and passion. What he's saying is that, as the study confirms, "gamifying" exercise doesn't encourage more participation in the activity. Basically, it's not a magic bullet.

I don't think there's anything inaccurate in that assessment, and I don't think it was intended to be comprehensive. Otherwise, wouldn't be much fun for us to discuss. And don't get me wrong, I've seen some bad examples of reading-in and grossly distorting the story... I just don't think this is one of those.

gmaverick019:
oh how I wait to see the high and mighty come in here to tell you your wrong, and that logic always applies with kids and they will always do what they are told if your honest and explain things to them. You will be cut down for such 'awful' ways to treat a child.

*grabs popcorn*

You're probably right. Not that I really hold it against them. We all want to believe that kids think in the same way and the same amount that we do as responsible adults. We want to believe that they can understand the explanations behind all of our requests, and that we'll always have the time to explain them. We want to believe that, when a child argues, they're actually pursuing truth, rather than just trying to wear us down.

We also want to believe that one day we'll do away with all crime, disease, and hunger. But some of us live and work in the real world, and we understand that's just ridiculous outside of hypotheticals and wishes.

If you make it a partnership, everything becomes negotiable. Everything. And kids have nothing better to do, so they'll argue everything. And if you're doing it right, some days they're going to flat out hate you -- but here's the magic! They're kids. It passes. Just like if you get all buddy-buddy with a kid and he luuuuurves you and eats out of your hand, that'll pass, too, and you'll be back at the bottom of the list.

I see too many teachers get caught up in this, and they come home with trophies that celebrate them for how they get these kids to "eat out of their hand." Problem is, we're not supposed to train them to eat out of our hands, we're supposed to train them to feed themselves.

How long were they involved in these 'active' sessons?

"He plays Wii sports for 20 mins a day but he's not getting any skinnier... why isn't he loosing weight?"

Playing catch in the park seems to be more physically demanding then most Wii games, unless were talking about wankers cramp of course.

The idea behind this was to burn more energy compared to sitting slouched with a controller in hand not to replace general exercise. Nevertheless!
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Dastardly:

mjc0961:
See, now this guy, he's intelligent. I say let this guy write some news articles.

Wouldn't go that far, man. I think this article handled things fairly, in that it introduced the study and got discussion going. I took it a step further, because education is my career and passion. What he's saying is that, as the study confirms, "gamifying" exercise doesn't encourage more participation in the activity. Basically, it's not a magic bullet.

I don't think there's anything inaccurate in that assessment, and I don't think it was intended to be comprehensive. Otherwise, wouldn't be much fun for us to discuss. And don't get me wrong, I've seen some bad examples of reading-in and grossly distorting the story... I just don't think this is one of those.

gmaverick019:
oh how I wait to see the high and mighty come in here to tell you your wrong, and that logic always applies with kids and they will always do what they are told if your honest and explain things to them. You will be cut down for such 'awful' ways to treat a child.

*grabs popcorn*

You're probably right. Not that I really hold it against them. We all want to believe that kids think in the same way and the same amount that we do as responsible adults. We want to believe that they can understand the explanations behind all of our requests, and that we'll always have the time to explain them. We want to believe that, when a child argues, they're actually pursuing truth, rather than just trying to wear us down.

We also want to believe that one day we'll do away with all crime, disease, and hunger. But some of us live and work in the real world, and we understand that's just ridiculous outside of hypotheticals and wishes.

If you make it a partnership, everything becomes negotiable. Everything. And kids have nothing better to do, so they'll argue everything. And if you're doing it right, some days they're going to flat out hate you -- but here's the magic! They're kids. It passes. Just like if you get all buddy-buddy with a kid and he luuuuurves you and eats out of your hand, that'll pass, too, and you'll be back at the bottom of the list.

I see too many teachers get caught up in this, and they come home with trophies that celebrate them for how they get these kids to "eat out of their hand." Problem is, we're not supposed to train them to eat out of our hands, we're supposed to train them to feed themselves.

hah nice to hear someone who has the same mindset

this part especially:

We also want to believe that one day we'll do away with all crime, disease, and hunger. But some of us live and work in the real world, and we understand that's just ridiculous outside of hypotheticals and wishes.

If you make it a partnership, everything becomes negotiable. Everything. And kids have nothing better to do, so they'll argue everything. And if you're doing it right, some days they're going to flat out hate you -- but here's the magic! They're kids. It passes.

your post semi reminded me of the episode of south park "the dog whisperer", if you haven't seen it, it's basically about cartman's mom hiring this dog trainer into training her son and her into being a parent and him not having so much control and treating her like he should.

example clip:

http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/155254/discipline-with-kfc

I burn calories playing games and no it's NOT a wii, it's what you EAT that counter balance this effort.

If you eat far more fatty foods BEYOND your body's ability to completely burn while gaming, scarfing down all of those chips, pizza and soda you WILL get fat but I have never gained weight in my life or either of my friends beyond the odd two or more pounds that are gained or lost if they're on sick-leave or vacation

You have to stop gaming at some point, like going out with friends and work so I for one have never seen gaming as something BAD for my health

Another useless study that proves nothing. What were we supposed to learn from this again?

Captcha: watch out

Crono1973:
I conclude that studies that waste money telling kids not to bother exercising with their game consoles to be unhelpful to the public.

instead reveals they're more likely to slack off in other ways to make up for playing hours of Wii Fit.

....and this only happens with exercising with game consoles? I'll bet after running a lap around the football field that kids also slack off.

The question "do games that require physical exertion to play promote physical health and wellness?" is legitimate, and answering it is legitimate science. What this study shows is that simply replacing your children's CoDs and GoWs with Wii Fit and DDR isn't going to be helpful, and that is significant.

I would like to see a comparison study done between kids that are given some classically "active" games to play like shooting hoops or playing on a jungle gym and kids given a few console games played from the couch, as well as a comparison of the calories one burns playing exercise games and calories burned playing those classically "active" games. My hypothesis is that you burn just as much playing DDR as playing a little basketball, and that under no circumstances will kids improve over playing games from the couch. If so, I would suggest that it is because it is a matter of attitudes towards physical exertion and reactions to fatigue, rather than the quality of the activities one chooses to pursue. In other words, kids stop exercising when they get tired, no matter what they're doing, so it doesn't matter what options you give them.

I have yet to see a kid that says "Yes, mommy, do buy me Wii Fit Plus instead of Super Mario Galaxy!". No, just no. It's never gonna happen.

Kids like to jump around and do silly stuff. That's why games like Just Dance are so popular. It's just jumping around; no specific workout. While that might help, it shouldn't be a substitute for real exercise.
If you've played games like Dance Dance Revolution, they track down how many calories you should be burning after a specific amount of time of "dancing" (It's basically a loooooong time of doing that before you start losing real weight). But that's assuming you do the exercise, or dancing, properly. Not missing arrows, doing the right moves and all. A kid is not gonna bother with that. They're just gonna jump around trying to do it as accurately as possible but still having fun.

Parents are just getting lazy. Forcing their kids to work out while playing is a horrible idea. Just do what my parents did: Go to the park and do whatever the heck you want for like an hour and then go back home and play your games. You can have your cake and eat it too.

Cid SilverWing:
Another useless study that proves nothing. What were we supposed to learn from this again?

Do you people just never ask questions? See my previous post.

Dastardly:
Parents need to realize that getting a kid to be more active will, more often than not, mean making them be more active. That is to say, they will not want to. Just like they don't want to eat vegetables or do chores.

Sometimes that is necessary, I agree. But surely it would be nice if they did want to do things that are good for them, right? Well I don't think it's such a pipe dream. Eating healthy and exercising is more a matter of circumstance and habit, I find, than a conscious choice. If a parent could entice their kids with activities that get them active (perhaps by getting them to do it with friends like little league) or if they made healthy foods in reasonable proportions the only available food choices, kids would be healthy and happy, because they're doing what they want and what they're used to doing.

Of course, there's a problem. It's not clear what foods in what proportions are really all that healthy (is two carrots the same as 1 cookie? Is a glass of milk preferable over an equal portion of water?), or even what activities are efficient at securing good health (is playing soccer for 2 hours as good as playing whatever you want to outside all day?). At the same time, we're trying to incorporate what we know about health into what we know about child psychology to promote happiness, like I was saying, but also to encourage willing participation and habit forming. The way it's pitched could decide whether little Jimmy loves soccer and plays it through High School or whether he drops it as soon as his mom gives him a choice. My point here is that while there are obviously some choices that anyone could make to improve their children's health and wellness (like not giving them pancakes every morning of their life and taking them to the park every so often), it's not clear where energy is best spent, nor how much is necessary, and those are the sorts of questions studies like this hope to help answer.

summerof2010:
But surely it would be nice if they did want to do things that are good for them, right? Well I don't think it's such a pipe dream. Eating healthy and exercising is more a matter of circumstance and habit, I find, than a conscious choice. If a parent could entice their kids with activities that get them active (perhaps by getting them to do it with friends like little league) or if they made healthy foods in reasonable proportions the only available food choices, kids would be healthy and happy, because they're doing what they want and what they're used to doing.

And you're getting to the heart of the matter: These behaviors are learned, the good and the bad. If they're not being taught, that doesn't mean the kid has stopped learning.

Too many parents (and people in general) think that learning can always be fun, or that you can always "bait" someone into doing what you want... and that just isn't effective. You might get short-term success with baiting, but in the long run you'll actually do more damage.

A big thing: If you want your kid to be more active, unplug the TV, computer, and games. Kick 'em outside for awhile. Just STANDING UP raises your base metabolism by more than you might think. But, of course, this is easier to do if you haven't already let the kid get used to staying in all the time.

Kids aren't going to just sit and stare at a wall. If you take away the electronics, they will find something to do. And if you don't fill the house with easily accessible snack foods, they won't make that 'something' eating. But all of this has to be done early on, so it becomes habit (rather than having to "take away fun stuff" later on to break bad ones).

I'd imagine they could indeed be part of a good exercise plan provided they're committed to it.

They're obviously not a substitute for real exercise like cycling, swimming, jogging etc.

Dastardly:
Too many parents (and people in general) think that learning can always be fun, or that you can always "bait" someone into doing what you want... and that just isn't effective. You might get short-term success with baiting, but in the long run you'll actually do more damage.

I'm not saying give Jimmy a cool 20 bucks to join the lacrosse team, I'm saying encourage it. Play sports with your kids, set a good example by exercising yourself, or just do your best to make it sound fun. Despite your assertion to the contrary, I don't see any reason that healthy choices have to be things kids don't want to do.

Abandon4093:
They're obviously not a substitute for real exercise like cycling, swimming, jogging etc.

Why not? The energy spent expanding and contracting one's leg muscles to move a bike is the same kind of energy spent to step along in DDR isn't it? I imagine it differs only by efficiency with regard to time, which is easy to correct for.

summerof2010:

Abandon4093:
They're obviously not a substitute for real exercise like cycling, swimming, jogging etc.

Why not? The energy spent expanding and contracting one's leg muscles to move a bike is the same kind of energy spent to step along in DDR isn't it? I imagine it differs only by efficiency with regard to time, which is easy to correct for.

I suppose it depends exactly what kind of activity but in my general experience the wii fit stuff is pretty lax unless you're doing yoga or aerobics.

You don't get the same kind of result from say playing a boxing game as you would if you did 20 minutes on a heavy bag. The resistance of the bag counts for a lot.

The same can be said for the resistance you get pushing the peddles of a bike going up hill in comparison to just going through the motions in thin air.

As someone who lives in Houston, Texas,I can say this with absolute certainty.

Man it's hot.

Well, I think the issue is that the study was conducted in houses without gaming consoles and thus not involving gamers. No real requirement was given for the usage of these games.

As I see things households who don't have game systems probably don't have them at this point due to a lack of general interest, or doing other things. Unsurprisingly the people with the consoles inserted into their homes probably didn't radically alter their life styles. The kids probably played with it a bit, but kept right on doing whatever it was that caused them to look that way to begin with since it was their primary interest... or a requirement. A kid whose family doesn't have a console might very well be so poor that the kid has to spend time working, and work does not always mean a lot of exercise, sitting around minding a store or whatever doesn't nessicarly mean you do much. Heck in a decade or so of security work I was well on my way to my current obese state (from being in pretty good shape) just from stress and inactvity.

To really judge, you'd have to find kids who actually used these products regularly, and as intended, which means families with consoles, and kids who wanted those titles. Some kid who say wanted "Dance, Dance, Revolution" or whatever game is out there for this now and begged for it for six months, and does nothing but play it on the highest difficulties trying to beat his scores every waking moment is a far better example of someone who "plays the game".

Likewise fitness programs for a console, are like any other kind of fitness system, they require work and adherance to the program. They work as long as you stick with it. The console programs are basically the same as any other workout system, it works if you do it every day for the allotted time, and keep pushing yourself to go a little further and faster each time.

So getting tired while playing a game makes you want to rest instead of getting even mroe tired. Children learn. If they excercise and get tired, and they dont like to be tired, they learn to not exercise. good job wii for making world fatter.

so the wii is not as good as it would seem. hmmmm. *goes back to playing zelda

oh come on

of course anything in the absence of context or motivation is going to fail to have an effect on whatever subject you're studying

but that doesn't immediately invalidate the wii as a useful device for exercising, but it might not be designed to work specifically on what the subject wants

kids won't just automatically latch onto anything you hand them without forming a connection with it first, and that includes sports

You mean flailing my arms about madly isn't exercise!?
Who would have thought it!

FantomOmega:
If you eat far more fatty foods BEYOND your body's ability to completely burn while gaming

Consuming fat doesn't make you fat, and if you were eating a diet based largely on protein and fat it would be so satiating that it's unlikely anyone will overeat based on those foods. Carbohydrates are the problem for fat storage and poor health. Namely sugar, wheat, and starches.

scarfing down all of those chips, pizza and soda you WILL get fat

Yes they will, but here's the rundown on why. Chips? Starch. Pizza? Wheat. Soda? Sugar. Funny that you ascribe to the old notion of fat being the culprit in the previous quoted statement then mention soda. People know soda makes you fat, they know it's the sugar that does it. But few people ever stop and ask why sugar is stored as fat when so-called experts have been saying for years that low fat is the way to lose weight. Sugar is a carbohydrate though. So which one is really the problem? Honestly, the problem is over consumption of the one macronutrient we don't need in order to live. Carbs.

Fat storage and fat loss are almost entirely down to diet which is why studies focusing on physical activity in children alone will rarely see results. If they stick with the same shitty diet then no amount of increased activity is going to help them lose weight. In fact, by sticking with the same shitty diet they're almost guaranteed to exercise less simply because they have no energy. My experience with kids has not been one of them being afraid or too lazy to be active except when their diets make them fat and tired.

well if you play for fun yeah you aren't going to get a good workout, you're going to have fun. i mean i know people who wouldn't do more than three songs on DDR cause they'd break a sweat. if you want a workout you actually have to have a workout. DDR and wii fit and those like it can be incorporated. they don't need to be exclusive though, you still need to go outside, vitamin D and all that.

summerof2010:

Dastardly:
Too many parents (and people in general) think that learning can always be fun, or that you can always "bait" someone into doing what you want... and that just isn't effective. You might get short-term success with baiting, but in the long run you'll actually do more damage.

I'm not saying give Jimmy a cool 20 bucks to join the lacrosse team, I'm saying encourage it. Play sports with your kids, set a good example by exercising yourself, or just do your best to make it sound fun. Despite your assertion to the contrary, I don't see any reason that healthy choices have to be things kids don't want to do.

And I'm not saying that healthy things must be miserable and un-fun. I am saying, however, that most of the time they won't be a kid's first choice. Because given the choice between sitting and watching Spongebob, or running and sweating and aching, which would most people choose? We don't choose the unhealthy things because they're unhealthy. We choose them because they're easier.

Same is true of homework vs. video games, or any other situation. The most important thing we can learn as we mature is how to do what we need to do even when there are easier or more fun alternatives. And most of the time, we learn that lesson early on because someone holds us to it, rather than waits for us to want to do it.

summerof2010:

Abandon4093:
They're obviously not a substitute for real exercise like cycling, swimming, jogging etc.

Why not? The energy spent expanding and contracting one's leg muscles to move a bike is the same kind of energy spent to step along in DDR isn't it? I imagine it differs only by efficiency with regard to time, which is easy to correct for.

Not so.

When you're cycling, you're encountering a LOT more resistance. And DDR can be played by using mostly your feet... or even toes. Consider, for instance, that you burn 50% more calories RUNNING a mile than you do WALKING a mile -- despite that frightfully common old wives tale that you burn the same amount.

Activities that cause you to consume more oxygen are going to burn more calories... because increased oxygen demand is your body's way of telling you that you're burning more. If you're not breathing heavy and sweating, you're not burning as much (or you're very, very used to the physical activity).

You mean standing in my living room leaning from side to side and then standing through 4 hours of menu screens for my 2nd turn isn't the same as going for a run? And jogging on the spot for 3 mins isn't the same as an 80 min rugby match? And 10 of the slowest press-ups in the world isn't the same as the 44 in 2 mins I have to do as a minimum on my fitness test?

No. Fucking. Way!

Did that really need a study!? I thought the whole idea of Wii fit was to make kids slightly more active and to encourage them to venture outside... that's why most of the games, especially the balance games, are based outside, and based on actual outdoor activities to plant that initial thought and banish the outdoor fear!?

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