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By Crystal Phend, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today

ORLANDO — People who play active video games such as Wii Sports or Wii Fit may actually be breaking a sweat: researchers here say some provide the equivalent of a moderate-intensity workout.

Gamers expended energy equal to walking on a treadmill at three miles an hour or more (3 metabolic equivalents, or METs) during a third of the games tested in a Nintendo-funded study led by Motohiko Miyachi, PhD, of the National Institute of Health and Nutrition in Tokyo.

The researchers studied 12 healthy, normal weight men and women ages 25 to 44 while they engaged in all the activities available in Wii Sports (golf, bowling, tennis, baseball, and boxing) and Wii Fit Plus (a total of 41 activities including yoga, resistance, balance, and aerobic exercises).

The gamers were inside an airtight room equipped with sensors that recorded the level of carbon dioxide in the air, enabling researchers to estimate the players’ energy expenditure.

The participants played each game, starting at the beginner level, for at least eight minutes to reach a steady state of energy expenditure.

At 5.6 METs, only one activity — the single-arm stand resistance exercise of Wii Fit Plus — came close to the equivalent of running or swimming, which meet the high-intensity exercise threshold of 6.0 METs.

Specific game activities with the highest energy expenditure included:

Basic run, just over 5.0 METs

Boxing, single-leg reach, advanced step, hula-hoop, and the push-up and side plank, slightly more than 4.0 METs each

Running plus, 4.0 METs

Driving range, tennis, balance bridge, and rowing squat, about 3 METs

These activities would count toward the recommended 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity physical activity recommended in AHA guidelines, Miyachi’s group noted.

Yoga and balance activities on Wii Fit Plus averaged only 2.1 and 2.0 METs, respectively. While not adding to daily physical activity counts, these exercises improve flexibility and could help prevent falls, the researchers said.

See I kept telling my mom playing video games wasn’t a problem.

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