Harvard Health Letter

In Brief: Video games aren't so bad

In Brief

Video games aren't so bad

Television and video games are often blamed for tubbiness trends, particularly among American children. But University of Miami researchers say it's unfair to group these two forms of entertainment together.

The researchers studied the metabolic and physiologic responses of 21 boys, ages 7–10, as they played an action video game called Tekken 3 for 15 minutes. As the boys punched and kicked their way through the game's mock martial arts battles, their heart rates went up, on average, by 19%; their systolic blood pressure rose by a similar amount; and their breathing rates increased by 55%.

The levels of glucose and lactate in their blood didn't change as it would during real physical activity. Nonetheless, the researchers estimated from the boys' breathing and oxygen consumption that the energy they expended in playing the video game was roughly equivalent to what they'd use in walking at a two-mile-per-hour pace. They reported their results in the April 2006 Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

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