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New Gaming Systems as Childhood Exercise?

videogamer.jpgI recently overheard a department store employee tempting a mother to purchase one gaming system over another largely because the “extra activity of this system will burn off more energy.” Mom seemed intrigued.

Looking down the aisle, I noticed her son was a couple Oreo’s short of “husky” size. So I give the salesman credit for speaking to his audience.

If you haven’t guessed already, the gaming system he was peddling was none other than Nintendo’s Wii. If you’re not familiar with the Wii – it’s the gaming system that requires one to swing the control to hit a tennis ball, to leverage your baseball bat, to bowl your ball, etc. It combines movement with video games. Chances are, many of you bought one for your little ones this past holiday… and good for you – it’s one of the hottest gaming system available (in fact, it was the best selling console system in Canada and trailed only other Nintendo systems in the U.S.).

Now, back to topic – this isn’t the first time I’ve heard the suggestion that the Wii is an excellent solution to the growing childhood obesity problem. I decided this necessitated a little research.

Fortunate for me, ostensibly well paid, highly educated smart folks have already done all the legwork for me. The good chaps over at the BMJ (British Medical Journal) did a thorough study of “sedentary” versus “new generation active” gaming systems. You can find the whole report here .

Well, it turns out the notion that new generation gaming systems will trim down tubby kids is, well, wii-diculous (I just couldn’t help it, sorry…).

In general, kids burn roughly 179 calories per hour on the Wii, while the same kid is likely to burn only 107 calories per hour on the Xbox. Now, that is a pretty big increase – but considering that you could sit on your touche doing nothing but flipping magazine pages for an hour and burn 70 calories, it’s not very remarkable.

Yes, you’ll burn a few more calories per hour – but a workout this is not.

A decent new tennis racket can be had for under$100 bucks and it burns on average 320 calories per hour for your typical kid. Perhaps working a little of the real in with a little of the virtual could keep the kids healthy in the future.

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