Get off the couch, or stay on. It doesn’t really matter.
With the release of Nintendo’s Wii gaming system in 2006, there was a shift in how we began to interact with games. No more joysticks and cords. The Wii ushered in an era of “active” gaming. It’s pretty easy to jump to the conclusion that all the dancing, punching, and tennis miming in games that the system spawned would make us less sedentary. New research, however, says otherwise. Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine conducted the study.
The participants in this study were children 9 to 12 years old who had a body mass index above the median and whose households did not already have a video game console. Each was given a Wii. Half were randomly assigned to a group that could choose two among the five most physically demanding games that could be found: Active Life: Extreme Challenge; EA Sports Active; Dance Dance Revolution; Wii Fit Plus; and Wii Sports. The other half could choose among the most popular games that are played passively, like Disney Sing It: Pop Hits and Madden NFL 10.
What the study found is that it’s really hard to break out of the couch potato mentality. The same kids that had no choice but to be more active because of the games they were given took on a sort of extreme inactivity when they weren’t playing games. Apparently this phenomena is pretty well-known in academic circles, but video game makers either didn’t know about it or they just don’t like to tell you about it while you’re spending hundreds of dollars on video fitness systems.
This reminds me of when I was seduced by a Twinkie ad. I bought those soft spongy treats by the pallet until I had enough to build a bed. Oh don’t get me wrong, that first week was the best sleep I’ve ever had. Problem is THEY WERE TWINKIES. I got hungry. My bed got lumpy. I had to cut my losses and move on to a futon. I packed on a few pounds thanks to the old Twinkie bed too. At least now I know why my Wii yoga regime hasn’t helped me get back to my fighting weight.
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