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Jury out on weight loss effects of dance game

Written by: Staff

NEW YORK, Nov 21, (Reuters) A dance video game can help overweight kids burn calories and get their hearts pumping faster, but it's not clear that this sort of workout is enough to help them lose weight and become more fit.

The popular video game, Dance Dance Revolution, consists of a game pad with sensor arrows, which the player child stands on while the screen gives instructions on where to step, in rhythm with the music.

Dr V B Unnithan of Liverpool Hope University in Liverpool, UK and colleagues set out to determine whether playing the dance video game would be beneficial to obese and normal-weight children, especially given that heaver and less-fit kids expend more energy when they do weight-bearing exercise than their normal weight, more active peers.

The researchers tested the game's cardiorespiratory effects in 10 overweight and 12 normal-weight boys and girls aged 10 to 17. All played the game at its lowest-intensity ''workout'' mode.

The heavier kids used more oxygen and energy while playing the game than did their non-overweight peers.

But when the researchers adjusted for the effects of body size, they found the effects of the dance game were no more intense for the overweight children. And while the increases in heart rate observed were adequate for increasing cardiovascular fitness, the researchers note, the children's breathing intensity were not.

This disconnect might be due to the children not moving their upper bodies while playing the game, the investigators suggest.

Therefore, if arm movements were added, the game might offer a more balanced workout.

Based on the findings, a person would have to play the dance video game for at least an hour and five minutes daily to lose weight, the authors note.

More study is needed, they conclude, to determine whether the dance video game could help overweight and obese adolescents lose weight and pare body fat.


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