Perhaps not exactly contrary to previously held opinions on the matter, a recent study by the Children’s Nutrition Research Centre at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston has found that exercise games won’t make lazy kids not-lazy. Somebody call CNN.
Study participants included children aged 9-12, with a body mass index over the average and whose homes did not already have a games console. Each participant was given a Wii, and the group was divided into a bunch with fitness games and a bunch with regular games. The result? “No evidence that children receiving the active video games were more active in general, or at any time, than children receiving the inactive video games.”
That’s because, as the researchers noticed, the kids who were playing the exercise games would compensate for this activity by doing absolutely nothing for the remainder of the time. It’s kind of like dieting in the week, then binging on deep-fried chocolate-coated bacon burger-topped pizza all weekend because you’ve been so good on your diet.
The study reiterates the findings of a similar study done with Wii Fit late last year, only with adults. Although activity levels were initially increased, they dropped dramatically after the first six weeks. Ultimately, there was no significant change in fitness among participants.
Commenting on both studies, Nintendo responded that the company “does not make any health claims with active-play games like Wii Sports and Wii Fit Plus, we hope that the games encourage users to be more physically active. They are designed to get people up off the couch and to have fun.”
I remember when fresh mud was all the incentive I needed.