Impact of exergaming on young children's school day energy expenditure and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity levels

Zan Gao, Zachary Pope, Jung Eun Lee, David Stodden, Nida Roncesvalles, Denis Pasco, Charles C. Huang, Du Feng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations


Background Although emerging research is demonstrating the potential health impact of exergaming, investigations have primarily been conducted in laboratory settings among small samples with short-term interventions. Information on the effectiveness of exergaming in underserved children's objective physical activity (PA) in population-based settings is also scarce. Moreover, most empirical studies have only included 1 type of exergame in the intervention. Therefore, this study's purpose was to investigate the long-term impact of a multigame exergaming intervention among underserved children integrated within school curricula. Specifically, this study examined the effect of exergaming on children's accelerometer-determined sedentary behavior (SB), light PA, moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA), and energy expenditure (EE) over 2 years as compared with regular physical education (PE) classes. Methods A total of 261 second- and third-grade children (134 girls, 127 boys; mean age 8.27 years) were recruited from 2 Texas elementary schools. Children's pre-test 3-day SB, light PA, MVPA, and EE at school were assessed in the fall of 2012. Participants were assigned to 1 of 2 groups: (1) exergaming/PE group (125 min weekly of exergaming-based PA program) and (2) comparison group (125 min weekly of PE). PA (SB, light PA, and MVPA) and EE outcome variables were assessed again in 2013 (post-test) and 2014 (follow-up). Results Significant time effects were observed for SB (F(1, 162) = 25.0, p < 0.01, η2 = 0.14), light PA (F(1, 162) = 9.6, p < 0.01, η2 = 0.06), and MVPA (F(1, 162) = 6.2, p = 0.01, η2 = 0.04) but not for EE (F(1, 162) = 0.63, p > 0.05, η2 = 0.004). Subsequent pairwise comparisons revealed significant increases from pre- to post-test for light PA (p < 0.01), MVPA (p < 0.01), and EE (p = 0.02) with no changes in SB (p > 0.05). Conversely, significant decreases occurred in light PA (p < 0.01) from post-test to follow-up with no differences seen in MVPA (p = 0.08) and EE (p = 0.06) over the same time period. A significant increase was seen, however, for SB from post-test to follow-up. Conclusion Exergaming PE can have the same positive effect on children's light PA, MVPA, and EE as regular PE. More research is necessary to discern how to promote long-term PA participation after conclusion of the intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-16
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Sport and Health Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017



  • Active video games
  • Childhood obesity
  • Light physical activity
  • Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity
  • Physical education
  • Sedentary behavior

Cite this