What is Exergaming?

By Michael Russell, Recent Arizona State University Nutrition Communications Student

As important as a great nutritional foundation is for our children just as equally important is their ability to get exercise.  We have seen a spike in child obesity and there is no doubt that the combination of a poor diet and lack of exercise are the contributing factors at play.  What seems to be a difficult task these days is pulling our children away from any type of screen, be it computer or television.  As children become more adapt to technology there comes a great merge of exercise and gaming called exergaming.


What is Exergaming:


Exergaming or Active video gaming is a relatively new technology that combines physical activity and video game play.  It requires the participant to get up from the couch and move around in order to interact with the video game.  The physical activity can range from simple hand and finger movements to a full blown out run.  It gets the participant involved in the video game which allows them to ignore that they are working out.


Benefits of Exergaming:


  • An increase in moderate aerobic exercise. Research is still underway and in the infant stages but the American Heart Association published a report entitled “The Power of Play: Innovations in Getting Active Summit” to which exergaming was tested and showed that people are more likely to move from sedentary levels up to moderate levels of activity.
  • A more wellrounded individual. Research has shown that people, especially females and the elderly when involved in exergaming they tend to stick to their exercise program.  Exergaming research also shows that this type of gaming can help an individual in psychosocial areas by helping to form strong bonds with others, become more group social, have higher self-esteem, and mutual support.
  • Scholastic impact. Although the research is still underway it has shown so far that classroom that integrates exergaming with scholastics a positive correlation between academic performance, absences, tardiness, and negative classroom behavior.  Again, exergaming research is new to the relationship of academics but plenty of research shows that increased physical activity levels directly relates to better-standardized exams scores.
  • Physical and mental therapy. Exergaming is being used in the treatment of patients that suffered from a stroke and Parkinson’s disease as well as patients with metal and development disorders.
  • It is fun. Most children claim that having fun is the most important thing they do and most adults tend to leave an exercise program because of boredom.  When tested amongst both children and adults they forgot they were exercising and focused on the video game aspect of the experience.


By the numbers:


Exergaming provides a ton of choice as far as the type of game you can play from golf to boxing, the choice is yours but I want to provide you some numbers as to the calories burned during exergaming play.


  • After one minute of play you can burn 3 calories and after thirty minutes you can burn 93.
  • After one minute of play you can burn 4 calories and after thirty minutes you can burn 117.
  • After one minute of play you can burn 4.5 calories and after thirty minutes you can burn 135.
  • After one minute of play you can burn 5 calories and after thirty minutes you can burn 159.
  • After one minute of play you can burn 5 calories and after thirty minutes you can burn 159.
  • After one minute of play you can burn 7 calories and after thirty minutes you can burn 216.


Where can you find exergaming:


Exergaming started as a push for the teen population visiting arcades to spend their money there but as the technology advanced so did the ability to find exergaming anywhere.  Other than arcades, which I believe had died off these days, you can find exergaming anywhere:


  • Community Facilities. Organizations like the YMCA or JCC are great places to find exergaming comminutes.  This is a great option for people of lower socio-economic classes as they may not be able to afford the technology on their own.  Research into a 4-week interactive video game program in children from lower end socio-economic areas showed improvements in cardiovascular endurance and academic performance.
  • Mobile Facilities. There are businesses, such as Exergame Fitness, that can provide you with a mobile exergaming experience.  They have the ability to supply you with a private mobile facility that can be brought to you at your home or social event, such as a birthday party, to experience exergaming in person.
  • At home. The video game counsel has been around, at least in my house, since the early eighties and as I have grown so has the technology.  We can now buy video game systems that integrate exergaming technology with our home video game counsels.  The major players for at home exergaming are:
    • Kinect for Xbox 360 or Xbox One
    • Playstation Move
    • Nintendo Wii Fit



Is exergaming for you?


Research has shown that exergaming is not just for children these days.  Young adults are immersed in a video game experience that takes them from the couch straight into their favorite video game.  The elderly has gone from being sedentary to forming strong bones and healthier hearts with the increased level of physical activity.


I can tell you from experience that these types of games are both thrilling and beneficial.  I used a boxing exergame to drop weight for my wedding.  I was able to set the pace at which I worked out at and never felt intimidated or self-conscious as I have felt before at a gym.   I was at a family party where I was laughing and joking with a family member I hadn’t seen in years because we all decided to play a bowling game together.


As I mentioned earlier a great nutritional foundation is key to providing a healthy start to our child’s lives but as research shows exercise is a great way to improve healthy bones and heart health.  As children become more familiar with technology exergaming seems to be a great way to involve, not just our children, but even ourselves in increased level of physical activity.





  1. Entrepreneur, S. (2011). Exergaming a domicilio. 100 ideas para emprender. Retrieved 4 April 2016, from http://www.soyentrepreneur.com/100ideas/2011/03/exergaming-a-domicilio/.
  2. Exergaming: Can Exercise Games Help You Get Fit?. (2016). WebMD. Retrieved 4 April 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/exercise-lose-weight-with-exergaming?page=2.
  3. Lieberman, D., Chamberlin, B., Medina, E., Franklin, B., Sanner, B., & Vafiadis, D. (2011). The Power of Play: Innovations in Getting Active Summit 2011: A Science Panel Proceedings Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation, 123(21), 2507-2516. http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/cir.0b013e318219661d.
  4. Resnick, L. (2012). Exergames: a new step toward fitness? – Harvard Health Blog. Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved 4 April 2016, from http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/exergames-a-new-step-toward-fitness-201203084470.




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