University study shows that playing video games can be good exercise
A study by the University of Bedfordshire has shown that physically interactive video game enthusiasts are more likely to exercise for real.
The research also showed that playing on consoles like the Nintendo Wii and Microsoft XBox Kinect increased positive mood and beliefs in how much control people had in doing more exercise.
The research was carried out by health, sport and exercise psychologist Dr Angel Chater, who grew up in the Luton and Dunstable borders area near to the hospital.
Dr Chater said: “We know that if a person has a positive attitude towards physical activity and believes they can do it, they will be more motivated to actually perform the behaviour, so we were interested in seeing if playing on these consoles can increase these psychological factors.
“Our results suggest they do.
“So not only can playing on these consoles be good exercise in itself, the gaming experience can make people more likely to want to do something active like go for a walk or play conventional sport and it also makes them feel happier.”
Dr Chater and University of Bedfordshire colleague Briony Marsden, presented their findings at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Health Psychology Annual Conference in Liverpool earlier this month.
The researchers surveyed 120 people, measuring their mood and views regarding physical activity and exercise – for example, whether they felt it was beneficial to their health and whether they believed they could actually do it.
They were then asked to either play or observe the Nintendo Wii or XBox Kinect, before their mood and beliefs were measured again.
Dr Chater added: “This is a small pilot study, but we would like to test these effects further in schools and homes for the elderly, in populations where we know activity levels can be improved, to see whether using interactive games consoles like the Wii and Kinect can increase motivation and actual physical activity, which will in turn improve population health.”
Dr Chater is a former University of Bedfordshire student herself, studying as a psychology undergraduate and postgraduate student before earning her PhD from Roehampton University.
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