Video games that are also a form of exercise may improve children's health, according to a new report.
Researchers studied the effects on youngsters of 'exergaming', in which active console video games track player movement to control the game, such as Xbox Kinect and Wii.
The Journal of Paediatrics reports that scientists from The University of Western Australia, Liverpool John Moores University and Swansea University evaluated 15 children, aged nine to 11, who participated in 15 minutes each of high-intensity exergaming (Kinect Sports' 200m Hurdles), low-intensity exergaming (Kinect Sports' Ten Pin Bowling) and a graded exercise test (treadmill).
The researchers measured energy expenditure and the vascular response to each activity using flow-mediated dilation (FMD), a measure of vascular function and health in children.
They found that high-intensity exergaming elicited an energy expenditure equivalent to moderate-intensity exercise, and low-intensity exergaming resulted in an energy expenditure equivalent to low-intensity exercise.
And although the low-intensity exergaming did not have an impact on FMD, high-intensity exergaming significantly decreased it, suggesting that the latter may improve vascular health in children.
High-intensity exergaming also increased heart rate and the amount of energy burned.
Participants reported similar enjoyment levels with both intensities of exergaming.
Researcher Dr Louise Naylor said: "Higher intensity exergaming may be a good form of activity for children to use to gain long-term and sustained health benefits."
These findings support the growing notion that high-intensity exergaming should be considered a means of encouraging children to become more active.