health care

Can exercise video games improve your health?

Posted 1/16/12

PROVIDENCE – A new, $2.6 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health has been awarded to The Miriam Hospital’s Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine to study whether popular exercise video games offer the same fitness benefits as traditional or more structured forms of exercise.

Dubbed the “We Heart Fitness” study, researchers will compare whether participants in a supervised exercise video game program are more likely to increase their weekly physical activity time compared to adults in a supervised standard aerobic exercise program and a control group. They also will look at changes in physical fitness and cardiovascular health among the three groups.

“We know that regular physical activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and certain forms of cancer, yet more than a quarter of U.S. adults do not devote any time to physical activity,” said Beth Bock, the principal investigator at Miriam Hospital. “We must develop innovative approaches to promoting increased physical activity that are engaging enough to be sustained.”

The study builds upon a recent pilot program, in which adults participating in a 12-week “exergame” program showed improvements in physical and cardiovascular fitness.

In addition, the research team will examine whether adults who participate in a six-month, home-based “exergame” program are more likely to adopt and maintain those efforts compared to a standard aerobic exercise program.

The research study is currently enrolling men and women, 18 years and older, who are generally health and are not exercising regularly.

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