3-11-11: Over the last few days, I've been excited to see the latest study by Bailey & McInnis, published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, showing that exergames can get players to reach the moderate to vigorous intensity levels, being talked about all over the net. (WebMD, Kotaku, VOA, Switched, Montreal Gazette, MedConnect, Google News listing)
Exergames can reach MVPA
This joins a growing body of research showing that certain types of exergames can be used to reach the moderate to vigorous levels of physical activity (MVPA). (See the list of research in The Exergame Network database, the Exergames Unlocked database, and Health Games Research database.)
Ever since the latest federal recommendations for physical activity came out in 2008, I've been saying that certain exergames can help Americans fulfill these recommendations, so it's nice to see more and more research supporting this this idea.
We know that exergames can overcome many of the obstacles faced in motivating people to be more physically active. We know that exergames can be appropriate interventions for reaching the PA recommendations.
Will they keep playing long enough to see the benefit?
What we don't know for sure yet is if players will keep playing long enough to gain the biometric benefits (reduced weight, lowered BP, reduced blood markers, etc.) those of us in healthcare desire to see.
Another recent study published online in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise (MSSE) concluded that "...active video games can significantly increase energy expended during screen time, but these games are less enjoyable than other more sedentary games, suggesting that they may be less likely to be played over time...".
NAGL to the rescue?
This is an organization like the now-forming National Active Gaming League (NAGL) can help address this "less enjoyment" factor and long-term compliance.
Just like swimming laps during a swim team practice is less enjoyable than playing Marco Polo at a swimming b-day party, organizing teams and training together for upcoming NAGL tournaments can empower kids and adults to "train" on exergames at a new level.
The structure provided by NAGL can give exergaming teams and "AGAs" (active gaming athletes) a reason to continue to train for the right duration and intensity.
Someday, the NAGL will be as effective at getting kids and adults to reach MVPA as the National Spelling Bee is at getting kids to study and compete in spelling. Then maybe someday, we will see the NAGL national finals on ESPN, just like the National Spelling finals!