Date of Award

8-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Nutrition

Major Professor

Hollie A. Raynor

Committee Members

Betsy Haughton, Dawn Coe

Abstract

It is recommended that children and adolescents participate in > 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) per day. Despite the current recommendations and positive health benefits, many children and adolescents still do not engage in regular physical activity (PA).

One challenge for assisting children in becoming more active is sedentary screen-based activities (SBAs), such as watching television (TV), using computers, and playing sedentary video games (VGs), as SBAs may compete with time for being physically active in children. One modification to sedentary VGs that may increase PA in children is to alter them so that the VGs actually provide an option to engage in PA. These types of VGs are called active video games (AVG) or "Exer-gaming." Studies have found that playing AVGs can produce the estimated energy expenditure (EE) comparable to moderate-intensity structured PAs, such as moderate-intensity treadmill walking and self-paced walking, but significantly less EE as compared to vigorous-intensity PAs, such as running. To determine if AVGs can provide a good source of PA in young children, it is important to note that young children acquire much of their PA through play rather than structured PA. Children’s play consists of short intermittent bouts of activity with frequent rest periods. Children are more active in unstructured, outdoor play areas where they can freely engage in activities requiring running, jumping and chasing. Thus to determine if AVGs are a good source of PA for young children, AVGs should be compared to unstructured play, rather than structured PA. Only one study has compared AVGs to unstructured PA in children and has used pedometry to assess PA. Thus, the purpose of this investigation was to compare AVG to unstructured outdoor play, as assessed by accelerometery and direct observation (DO), using a within-subjects design.

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