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April 2006

Metabolic and Physiologic Responses to Video Game Play in 7- to 10-Year-Old Boys

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Exercise and Sport Sciences Department, School of Education, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006;160(4):411-415. doi:10.1001/archpedi.160.4.411

Objective  To examine the metabolic, physiologic, and hemostatic responses to action video game play in a group of young boys.

Design  Comparison study.

Setting  Laboratory of Clinical and Applied Physiology, University of Miami.

Participants  Twenty-one boys aged 7 to 10 years.

Main Outcome Measures  Blood pressure monitored before and during game play and blood glucose and lactate levels measured before and immediately after game play. Measurements were continuously recorded throughout game play. Dependent t tests were used to compare measurements recorded at baseline and during or after game play. Effect sizes using the Cohen d were examined for comparisons.

Results  Significant increases from baseline were found for heart rate (18.8%; P<.001), systolic (22.3%; P<.001) and diastolic (5.8%; P = .006) blood pressure, ventilation (51.9%; P<.001), respiratory rate (54.8%; P<.001), oxygen consumption (49.0%; P<.001), and energy expenditure (52.9%; P<.001). Effect sizes for these comparisons were medium or large. No significant changes were found from baseline to after video game play for lactate (18.2% increase; P = .07) and glucose (0.9% decrease; P = .59) levels.

Conclusions  Video game play results in significant increases in various metabolic and physiologic variables in young children. Thus, it should not be combined with television viewing for the evaluation of sedentary activities. The magnitude of change, however, was lower than that observed during standard physical exercise and below national health recommendations. As such, video game play should not be considered a substitute for regular physical activities that significantly stress the metabolic pathways required for the promotion of cardiovascular conditioning.