How often do US Youth play exergames? According to NHANES 2010 data, 4 out of 10 high school students play exergames / active games on a weekly basis. If played at sufficient intensities and duration, exergaming may be a viable mode for U.S. youth to meet physical activity guidelines.
Objective: Active video game usage (active gaming) is a viable way to encourage and increase physical activity. Video game technology is perceived as ubiquitous although no current nationally-representative study describes participation in active gaming in U.S. youth. Our study describes the proportion of high school youth who report active gaming and the characteristics associated with active gaming.
Methods: The National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey, 2010 provided data for this study. A nationally representative sample of 9,125 U.S. students in grades 9=12 completed a self-administered questionnaire during class in Spring, 2010. The survey response rate was 73%. Active gaming was assessed as the number of days reported participating in active video games [Wii, Dance Dance Revolution] in the past 7 days. Students reporting 1 days were classified as active gamers. Characteristics hypothesized to be associated with active gaming [demographic (sex, grade, race/ethnicity), BMI (normal, overweight, obese), sedentary behaviors (watching DVDs and TV), and physical activity (sports and physical education participation, meeting aerobic and muscle strengthening guidelines)] were also obtained from the questionnaire. Statistical software was used to account for complex sampling and to calculate prevalence estimates and 95% confidence intervals (CI). Logistic regression was used to examine the association between active gaming and demographic characteristics, BMI, sedentary behaviors, and physical activity.
Results: The proportion of U.S. high school students reporting active gaming was 39.9% (95% CI = 37.9, 42.0%). Adjusting for all covariates, the following characteristics were positively associated (p<0.05) with active gaming: 9th and 10th grades (versus 12th grade), African-American race/ethnicity (versus Hispanic), overweight or obese (versus normal weight), watching DVDs >0 hours/day (versus watching DVDs 0 hours/day) and watching TV >0 hours/day (versus watching TV 0 hours/day), and meeting aerobic physical activity and muscle strengthening guidelines (versus not meeting the respective guidelines).
Conclusion: Four out of 10 U.S. high school students report participating in active gaming. Active gamers are more likely to be younger, African-American, overweight or obese, spend time watching DVDs or TV, and meet physical activity guidelines. Active gaming may be a viable mode for U.S. youth to meet physical activity guidelines.
Fulton, J.E., Song, M, Carroll, D.D., & Lee, S.M. (2012). Active Video Game Participation in U.S. Youth: Findings from the National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey, 2010 Circulation, 125
Click here to explore more of ExerGame Lab's archived posts involving research studies.