West Virginia University and the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency have announced the results of a clinical research project conducted in conjunction with the Games for Health research project. The results: consistent play of Konami‘s Dance Dance Revolution video game series improved the behaviors, attitudes, and overall health of children.
The 24-week study was conducted in the home of participants, many of whom were PEIA policyholders. Participants were required to play the game five days a week for at least 30 minutes, and record their activity while West Virginia University monitored participants’ weight, blood pressure, body mass index, arterial function, fitness levels, and general attitudes towards exercise. All the participants were above the 85th percentile for body mass index for their age and gender.
The study found that the majority of children participating did not gain weight duing the course of the study, and did experience improvements in aerobic capacity, blood pressure, and overall fitness level. Perhaps more significantly for the childrens’ long-term health, their attitudes towards exercise became more positive, and the childrens’ self-esteem improved. “Most of our subjects had historically felt awkward about participating in gym and physical activity at school. After the program, they demonstrated a new sense of confidence and desired to maintain their newfound skills,” said Emily Murphy, pediatric exercise physiologist with WVU School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics.
The study, which was conducted with the knowledge and, ultimately, the support of Konami, stemmed from a need to combat the increasing incidence of childhood obesity. “The answer is clearly more exercise,” said Dr. Linda Carson, WVU’s Ware Distinguished Professor of the School of Physical Education, “but the challenge is finding something that appeals to this generation of technologically sophisticated children. DDR combines the appeal of ‘screen time’ within a physical activity format. We are excited that we can now demonstrate that it is a valuable health tool and something kids enjoy.”
“The success of Dance Dance Revolution as a fitness tool stems from its ability to entertain ‘kids’ of all ages and skill levels. The game provides an inclusive experience that motivates people to get off the couch and move,” said Catherine Fowler, Senior VP of Sales and Marketing at Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. “We are happy with the results announced by the State of West Virginia as it justifies the potential DDR has to have a positive and healthy effect on people’s lives.”
A video game which might be good for kids? What’s next—a computer which increases productivity?
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