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Last Updated: Monday, 19 February 2007, 16:06 GMT
Computer games 'burn up calories'
Gamers
Players use body movements to control the action
Playing new style computer games can help people burn up a significant number of calories, research has found.

Games consoles such as Nintendo Wii require players to use body movements to control the action.

A study by Liverpool John Moores University found regular use could help shift 27lb (12.25kg) a year.

The study was carried out to establish whether computer games can contribute to the daily activity recommendations for children.

Parents should encourage other physical activities and outdoor pursuits in order for their children to lead well-balanced live
Professor Tim Cable
Liverpool John Moores University

The researchers compared activity levels during gaming using the Wii with those achieved using traditional seated joypad-controlled consoles.

They found more active forms of gaming increased energy expenditure to a level which could help lose weight.

Heart rate

Lead researcher Professor Tim Cable said: "Through our testing it is clear that the motion sensor-controlled console can make an impact on a child's heart rate, energy expenditure and the amount of calories burned.

"Research from GameVision's Consumer Intelligence Report shows that, on average, gamers in the UK currently spend around 12.2 hours a week playing computer games.

"Therefore, it is important to promote as much activity as possible during this time."

Professor Cable said active consoles such as the Wii could provide a means of motivating children who are less active.

But he added: "Parents should encourage other physical activities and outdoor pursuits in order for their children to lead well-balanced lives."

Children do play these computer games because they find them fascinating, and so it would be best if the games they play include an element of physical activity
Dr Ian Campbell
Weight Concern

The study measured the impact on five girls and seven boys, aged between 13 and 15, of playing both an active and inactive console.

During 15 minutes of play using a traditional joypad operated console, energy expenditure increased above resting values by an average 60%.

In comparison, when using the Wii console, the participants' energy expenditure increased 156% above resting.

Based on the average gaming week of 12.2 hours, this translates to a potential 1,830 calories burned per week when using Wii - 40% more than when using a traditional format console.

In both conditions the energy expenditure of boys was greater than that observed for girls.

Heart rates were also much greater when using the active console, reaching values of 130 beats per minute, compared with 85 beats per minute for the traditional console.

Dr Ian Campbell, medical director of the charity Weight Concern, said children should be encouraged to play outside, and that parents should limit the amount of time they played computer games.

However, he said: "Children do play these computer games because they find them fascinating, and so it would be best if the games they play include an element of physical activity."


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