by your ADI Team - Dec. 2012

How many parents out there are concerned with their children spending too much time playing video games and decided to go out and buy a Wii station or some other ‘active’ video game system? It makes sense to think that these systems will help your child to be healthier and more physically active, but are they really helping?

Although active video games may help get your kids off the couch, they are still no substitute for real exercise, and we now have the numbers to prove it. Active Healthy Kids Canada has officially stated their position on active video games after taking a look at the latest evidence on the subject. They reviewed 1,367 research papers and came to the conclusion that “exergames” might be a good way to break up the time kids are sitting around, but that they are not as good as having kids play real active games or sports and that playing active video games doesn’t lead to increased overall daily physical activity levels.

So, how much physical activity should your child be getting? Canada’s physical activity guidelines state that Canadian children and youth get at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity daily; which means activity with about the same intensity as walking like you’re late for something. That might not seem like a lot considering how active children are naturally, please consider the fact that kids are only actually getting 24 minutes of activity daily and much of that can be attributed back to video games.

If you are wondering how to get your kids more active, that answer is really quite simple. Turn off your TV, computer and video games. 63% of kids’ free time after school and on weekends is spent being sedentary, in other words, sitting around. If we as parents can change that percentage and get it down to under 50%, our kids will automatically be more active, just by getting up and playing.

So next time you are concerned for your child’s health, turn off the TV and show them where their shoes are. If they go outside and even just walk to their friend’s place to watch TV there, at least they moved, and you can feel comfortable in knowing that you helped your child be just a little healthier.

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