Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Targeting Sedentarianism with exergaming!

1-11-12: Happy New Year! I hope that you have a great holiday break. I'm sure many received some sort of exergame (such as a Wii or Kinect), and are using it to stay active in the new year.

As I look back on the last few years in the field of exergaming, a lot of the attention has been focused on using exergames as a way to increase physical activity (PA) and to be used as a new intervention for an exercise prescription (Exercise Rx).

However, in just the last year, I've noticed a new focus coming up...that of decreasing sedentary behavior. At first glance, this may seem like 2 sides of the same coin or mere semantics, but in fact, evidence is coming out that shows sedentary behavior is an independent risk factor compared to not doing the your exercise Rx.

In other words, someone who is doing their regular exercise Rx of 30 mins, 5x/wk, but then then is totally sedentary the other 23+ hours of the day (sleep, sitting at work, driving, etc.), is almost at the same risk as not doing your Exer. Rx at all!!! In other words, doing your workout does NOT protect you from being a couch potato the other 23 hours of the day!!!

A study that just came out highlights this in youth. Published by the American College of Sports Medicine, you can read more about it here.

What I like about this new focus is that now, instead of seeing which exergames meet the moderate to vigorous levels of intensity to qualify as "exercise", we are just focused on kids (and adults) being less sedentary!!! They talk about the benefits of JUST STANDING while talking on the phone, for example. With this level of physical activity, EVERY SINGLE exergame would qualify as an tool to decrease sedentary behavior!!!

Imagine schools, workplaces, homes, taking "sedentary vaccinations" by playing a game or two of some popular exergame every hour. It would be a nice mental break as well as a physical activity against sedentarianism.

I think we should encourage more research into the viability and effectiveness of exergames to break sedentary behavior. Then maybe, exergames will be more fully accepted by all those in the sports medicine and healthcare fields and promoted as a tool for their patients/client.

What do you think? Feel free to comment here or e-mail me at or post a message on my Facebook wall (Exergaming Interventionist).

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