Not all video games are for couch potatoes
The researchers studied the metabolic and physiologic responses of 21 boys, ages 7-10, as they played the action video game "Tekken 3" for 15 minutes. As the boys punched and kicked their way through the game's mock martial arts battles, their heart rates went up, on average, by 19 percent; their systolic blood pressure rose by a similar amount; and their breathing rates increased by 55 percent.
The levels of glucose and lactate in their blood didn't change as they would during real physical activity. Nonetheless, the researchers estimated from the boys' breathing and oxygen consumption that the energy they expended in playing the video game was roughly equivalent to what they'd use in walking at a 2 mph pace. They reported their results in the April 2006 Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
Surveys have found that American children are playing video games up to 40 minutes a day, which still pales when compared with the average time they spend watching television (2.8-3.6 hours daily).
Some new "exergaming" options are designed to get players up and moving. "Dance Dance Revolution" scores gamers on their dancing abilities as they move to match onscreen steps choreographed to music. This fall, Nintendo is scheduled to release a system called the Nintendo Wii that will feature game controllers with built-in gyroscopes and motion detectors. Instead of just moving their thumbs, gamers will have to get up and move to play.