OBJECTIVE: To compare energy expenditure rates in children playing the physically active video games, Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) and Nintendo's Wii Sports in relation to treadmill walking.
METHODS: Energy expenditure, heart rate, step rate, and perceived exertion were measured in 14 boys and 9 girls (ages 10–13 years; BMI at 3–98th percentile for age and gender) while watching television at rest, playing DDR at 2 skill levels, playing Wii bowling and boxing, and walking at 2.6, 4.2, and 5.7 km/h. Arterial elasticity was measured at rest and immediately after gaming.
RESULTS: Compared with watching television, energy expenditure while gaming or walking increased 2- to 3-fold. Similarly, high rates of energy expenditure, heart rate, and perceived exertion were elicited from playing Wii boxing, DDR level 2, or walking at 5.7 km/h. This occurred despite variations in step rate among activities, reflecting greater use of upper body during Wii play (lowest step rate) than during walking (highest step rate) or DDR play. Wii bowling and beginner level DDR elicited a 2-fold increase in energy expenditure compared to television watching. Large-artery elasticity declined immediately after both DDR and Wii. The change was inversely related to the increment in energy expenditure above rest achieved during the activity.
CONCLUSIONS: Energy expenditure during active video game play is comparable to moderate-intensity walking. Thus, for children who spend considerable time playing electronic screen games for entertainment, physically active games seem to be a safe, fun, and valuable means of promoting energy expenditure.