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Active Game Controllers Help Burn Calories

Oh my, the very tenets of civilization which mandate avid video game players be described only as “flabby slackers” are falling like dominos. First, a study finds that, even if it doesn’t necessarily help children lose weight, regular play of Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution can at least stave off additional weight gain in children. Then comes a study which finds first-person shooters sharpen gamers’ vision. Now, a study from the U.K.’s Liverpool John Moores University, as reported by the BBC, finds that game consoles which require players to use body movements to control gameplay—like the Nintendo Wii—increases calorie consumption and energy expenditure.

Lead researcher professor Tim Cable measured the impact of playing both inactive and active gaming consoles on five girls and seven boys between the ages of 13 and 15. During 15 minutes of play on a traditional “inactive” console, energy expenditures by players increased some 60 percent over resting values; however, during 15 minutes of play on the Nintendo Wii, participants’ energy expenditure increased 156 percent over resting levels. The results found that heart rates for Wii players could reach as high as 130 beats per minute, compared to 85 beats per minute for traditional console play. In each case, boys were observed to expend more energy than girls.

According to Cable, “Research from GameVision‘s Consumer Intelligence Report shows that, on average, gamers in the U.K. currently spend around 12.2 hours a week playing computer games,” which would translate to 1,830 calories burned per week on the Wii console, 040 percent more than on a traditional “inactive” console.

Of course, parents shouldn’t think buying the tots a Wii is an acceptable substitute for gym class and actual exercise. Cable notes “Parents should encourage other physical activities and outdoor pursuits in order for their children to lead well-balanced lives,” but that consoles like the Wii might be a way to encourage and motivate less-active children.

Of course, gamers—and perhaps video game makers&mdahs;will note that active remote technology is still young: one day, it may free humanity from any need of “outdoor pursuits.”