Getting a teenage girl to get more exercise probably never starts with the words "turn on the T.V. and video game console." However, that's exactly what researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center are doing.
"A lot of people will blame video games and TV for contributing to childhood obesity and certainly, if a child spends all day sitting on the couch playing video games, that's not good for their health," said researcher Dr. Amanda Staino. "We're trying to get them up and get moving. But, we're trying to play with what the kids are doing."
Researchers say that during their teen years, girls especially tend to be less active. Klub Kinect is a new study that is using the Xbox Kinect video system and its popular dance games to help girls lose weight and stay active.
"We find that the dance games involve more body movement so that the kids get moderate to vigorous activity and that's what takes to lose weight and improve their heart health," said Staino.
The game is simple. It features popular, high energy songs and gamers play along by dancing to choreography that is demonstrated on the screen. Gamers rack up points by copying the dance moves correctly.
The choreography uses a lot of cardiovascular exercise, and many of the moves impact core and leg muscles. The result is a fun workout.
"With a lot of the ways that people exercise today whether it's being on the treadmill, or going out for a walk or a job, this is definitely more engaging," said research specialist Cory Lemon. "You don't feel like your exercising which a lot of people say is a barrier."
According to Staino, this study is not meant to replace traditional exercise with video games. However, she believes that if the study proves to be effective, that video games may be a doorway to get less active kids more involved in exercise.
The Klub Kinect study needs 40 girls ranging from 14-18 years old who are considered overweight.
Participants will come in for a clinic visit to assess their level of health. Then, over three months, the volunteers come to the Pennington center three times a week. When participants have finished the study, researchers will do a follow up clinical visit to track any progress. Study participants will also be paid $300, and receive a free nutrition counseling session.
Researchers hope to have the study completed by the summer, so there is a limited window to sign up. If you are interested, call 225-763-3000 or follow this link.
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