In recent years, childhood obesity and sedentary behavior have emerged as significant public health concerns. Fortunately, exergaming has emerged as an innovative solution to encourage kids to get active, even as traditional forms of physical activity, such as outdoor play and team sports, remain essential for promoting children’s health. Exergaming involves playing video games that require physical exertion, and it has gained significant popularity among parents and teachers as a means to promote children’s physical fitness. Nonetheless, parents may wonder if exergaming can replace regular exercise or if it is merely a passing trend. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of exergaming and its potential impact on children’s long-term health. We will also examine whether children who do not engage in frequent physical activity experience negative consequences over time.
The current state of children’s physical activity levels:
In recent years, there has been a significant decline in children’s physical activity levels in numerous countries worldwide. Shockingly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 20% of children in the United States engage in the recommended 60 minutes of moderate to strenuous exercise per day. This trend is especially concerning given the numerous health benefits that regular physical activity provides for children, including a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
This decline in physical activity levels is not unique to the United States. A recent study published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health revealed that in 12 European countries, less than 40% of children meet the recommended physical activity guidelines. Additionally, the study found that girls are less active than boys, and this gender disparity is growing.
Beyond immediate health concerns, the long-term effects of children’s decreasing physical activity levels are also worrisome. Inactivity during childhood is associated with a higher likelihood of developing chronic diseases in adulthood. As such, finding innovative and engaging methods to encourage physical activity among children is crucial. Exergaming, which combines the appeal of video games with the benefits of exercise, presents a potential solution.
The rise of sedentary behavior among children:
In recent years, sedentary behavior, or spending extended periods sitting or lying down with little physical activity, has become more common among kids. This trend towards a more sedentary lifestyle is alarming because it is linked to several detrimental health effects.
The increased risk of obesity in children is one of the main dangers linked to sedentary behavior. Children are more prone to acquire weight and develop various health issues, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, when they are less active and spend more time sitting down.
Also, being inactive is linked to several detrimental health effects, such as weak bones, frail muscles, and diminished flexibility. Youngsters who spend more time sitting still are more prone to suffer from mental health conditions like despair and anxiety.
Screen usage is one of the leading causes of sedentary behavior in kids. Since smartphones, tablets, and other electronic gadgets are so widely available, kids spend more time doing activities that include screens than ever. This screen usage can harm children’s sleep habits and cognitive development and encourage sedentary behavior.
Given the dangers of sedentary behavior, finding strategies to motivate kids to engage in increased physical activity is essential. Exergaming is one possible remedy since it encourages kids to be more active while limiting their screen time by fusing the allure of video games with the advantages of exercise.
The effectiveness of exergaming:
Over the past decade, numerous research studies have evaluated the effectiveness of exergaming in promoting physical activity and improving health outcomes in children. Here are some key findings from these studies:
Increased physical activity:
According to research in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, children who played exergames five days a week for 30 minutes each day for six weeks significantly increased their physical activity levels. Notably, the kids were more physically active, crucial for boosting cardiovascular health and lowering the risk of chronic illnesses.
Improved cardiovascular health:
Exergaming helped enhance cardiovascular health outcomes, including measures of aerobic fitness, blood pressure, and heart rate, according to a systematic evaluation of 19 research published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science.
Enhanced motor skills:
According to a study in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, playing exercise games helps kids’ motor abilities, such as balance, coordination, and reaction time, improve.
Reduced sedentary behavior:
Exergaming was found to be successful in lowering children’s sedentary behavior and increasing their levels of physical activity, according to a study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.
According to research in the Games for Health Journal, kids who played exergames were likelier to stick with the activity than kids who exercised regularly
Tips for incorporating exergaming into a child’s routine:
Exergaming can be a fun and effective way to promote Kid’s physical fitness. Here are some practical tips for parents looking to incorporate exergaming into their child’s routine:
Choose appropriate games:
It’s crucial to find exercise games suitable for your child’s age and skill level while making your selections. Games that are too difficult or frustrating may deter kids from playing, but games that are too simple may not present a sufficient challenge to encourage physical exercising for kids.
Consider equipment options:
Exergaming gear comes in a variety of forms, from specialist items like dance pads and balance boards to gaming consoles like the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation Move, and Xbox Kinect. Consider your child’s hobbies and preferences, as well as your budget and available space, while selecting equipment.
Set goals and track progress:
Setting goals and monitoring progress over time might assist in keeping kids engaged and motivated. For instance, parents might advise their kids to play video games for exercise for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, and monitor their development with a chart or app.
Make it a family activity:
Families can have a good time together while encouraging physical exercise by playing exergames. Exergaming activities allow parents to participate in the excitement while fostering healthy habits by participating with their kids.
Limit screen time:
Exergaming is a great approach to encourage exercise, but it’s also crucial to balance screen time with other activities like outdoor play, sports, and other practices. To enhance general health and well-being, parents should restrict screen time and promote various physical activities.
In conclusion, promoting physical activity among children is essential for their overall health and well-being, and exergaming can be an enjoyable and effective way to achieve this goal. However, it is crucial to strike a balance between screen time and other activities and select appropriate games and tools that are both entertaining and challenging.
Parents play a vital role in encouraging and supporting their children to engage in physical activity and develop healthy habits. By offering opportunities for outdoor play, scheduling physical activity, and incorporating exercise into daily routines in a fun and engaging manner, parents can help establish lifelong habits of exergaming and healthy living. Prioritizing children’s physical fitness and promoting healthy lifestyle choices will enable our children to have a better future.