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Exergaming: Exercise and Fun for Kids

Exergaming for kids

Parents may want to invest in exergaming programs, especially if their kids aren’t all that excited about fitness. Review study findings by University of Birmingham researchers in England show that online fitness programs and apps not only increase activity, but also improve emotions, attitudes and motivation for physical activity.

“We find convincing evidence that PE teachers can use online learning to boost attitudes and participation in physical activity among young people, particularly at primary school age,” said lead study author, Victoria Goodyear, PhD, senior lecturer in sport, physical activity and health at University of Birmingham. “There’s a real opportunity here for the PE profession to lead the way in designing meaningful and effective online exercise opportunities, as well as an opportunity to embed positive approaches to exercise and online games and apps at an early stage.”

Three mechanisms of exergaming created the positive results: gamification, where participants progressed through different levels; personalization, where participants received individualized feedback and rewards based on progress; and information, where participants were educated or guided to encourage behavioral change.

The study is published in Physical Education and Sports Pedagogy (2021; doi:10.1080/17408989.2021.1953459).

See also: An App to Help Kids Eat Better

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Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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