HealthDay News — Active video games are a good alternative to sedentary behavior, and can provide health benefits comparable to laboratory-based exercise or field-based physical activity, according to research published in Obesity Reviews.

To examine the effects of active video games (AVGs) on children/adolescents’ health-related outcomes, Zan Gao, PhD, of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 35 studies that met inclusion criteria. Comparisons were conducted for outcome measures in three categories: AVGs and sedentary behaviors, AVGs and laboratory-based exercise, and AVGs and field-based physical activity.

AVGs had a large effect on health outcomes compared with sedentary behaviors, reported the investigators. Comparing AVGs with laboratory-based exercises, the effect sizes for physiological outcomes were marginal. Null to moderate effect sizes were seen in the comparison between AVGs and field-based physical activity. Equivalent health benefits were seen for AVGs and laboratory-based exercise or field-based physical activity

“The findings have public health implications that can help inform health care stakeholders regarding AVG interventions among children/adolescents,” concluded the authors.

“Overall, given the fun component embedded in the games, AVGs are desirable as a promising addition to promote physical activity and health by replacing these sedentary behaviors.”


  1. Gao Z et al. Obesity Reviews. 2015; doi: 10.1111/obr.12287