University of Exeter Research Paper: Executive Summary
Energy Expenditure and Cardiovascular Responses of Children Using the CardioWall: An Executive Summary of a Technical Report by André Arik Schuber & Professor Craig Williams.
Inactive lifestyles and sedentary activities are associated with recent increases in childhood obesity. With fun and enjoyment constituting key motivators for activity choice and adherence in the young population, one strategy for promoting physical activity might be to combine traditional exercise with the new generation of video and electronic games, which are collectively referred to as ‘exergaming’. These games feature player movement, such as would occur in ‘real life’ exercise participation.
Currently scientific evidence regarding the effects of commercial exergaming in children is sparse . The study conducted at the University of Exeter set out to investigate the validity of future school-based interventions and to complement previous findings on commercial exergaming. As well as measuring energy expenditure (EE) and cardiovascular responses, this study also sought to evaluate the perceived exertion, enjoyment and movement activity of children while ‘exergaming’ using the CardioWall, an electronic sport wall.
The recently-developed CardioWall constitutes an example of commercial exergaming designed for use in a primary school setting. Consisting of nine touch-sensitive panels, the wall comes equipped with six different games lasting from 0.5 min up to 5 min. Games are based around the basic concept of extinguishing a random lit-up panel as fast as possible by hitting it, thereby scoring points which are displayed in real time.
Using CardioWall in the University Of Exeter study
It was hypothesised that the CardioWall device might offer opportunities for participation in voluntary physical activity throughout the school day. Five boys and five girls (10.9 ± 0.3 y) from a local primary school volunteered to participate in this project. They each completed a 12 minute exercise protocol consisting of four different wall games of increasing difficulty and duration. Games were selected on the basis of their potential enjoyment and ranged from very easy to very aerobically challenging.
Breaks of 1-min duration between games allowed for the determination of RPE, and game enjoyment was determined following the exercise protocol. Game and break durations were chosen to allow for comparisons with the previous literature. To increase movement and account for right- and left-handedness, children were instructed to hit the panels with a size 5 association football held in both hands. The children were asked to score as many points as possible and received verbal encouragement throughout the test. Furthermore, to ensure compliance with the protocol, gift cards were awarded to the participants who scored the most points.
Note: While a football was used in the study, in a real-life environment, using two hands separately, using light hand-held weights and using the walls as a stimulus for team–based relays are all good ways of significantly raising the intensity of the CardioWall work out.
The exercise protocol increased EE and HR of children to levels significantly different from rest and reflecting moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. EE and heart rate levels during the protocol were significantly (p < 0.001) higher than at baseline and increased by 398 % to 524 % and 155 % to 186 %, respectively. Metabolic equivalents ranged from 4.9 to 6.2 and self-reported enjoyment assessed via the Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale (PACES) was very high (4.64 ± 0.26 out of 5).
The study authors concluded that using the CardioWall equates to physical activities of moderate-to-vigorous intensity, equivalent to running at 5.8 kph. This level of intensity is consistent with government recommendations for obesity prevention .
Looking to the Future: Next Steps
Engaging children and adolescents in long-term regular exercise is the fundamental goal of every physical activity intervention. While exergaming may be superior to sedentary video gaming and other passive screen time activities, it is more likely to complement existing sports and free play. Initial results shown in the Exeter study suggest that CardioWall might offer children an appealing alternative to more traditional forms of exercise and may be a valuable tool for increasing habitual physical activity levels across a number of different environments and settings including schools, community centres and homes.
While this study represents an important first step in extending the understanding of commercial exergaming and its effects in the young population, there are several limitations that should be noted. The small sample size of ten participants and age range of the children (10 to 11) means the generalisability of the data is limited and this should be considered when comparing the current findings to those observed in other groups. With regard to the long-term sustainability of commercial exergaming such as was explored in this study, high-quality and methodologically sound intervention trials involving appropriate sample sizes and comparator groups are needed. Future studies should also explore whether exergaming can contribute to the overall habitual activity level of children, or if it merely acts as a replacement for traditional physical activity.
The achievement of this study has been to set the scene for further research and analysis on the potential role and benefits of exergaming for increasing physical activity levels in children. On the basis of this initial research, the CardioWall emerges as a viable candidate for a future long term invention. Further analysis of the CardioWall is now planned at Exeter University and in practical environments such as Arbour Vales School.
A White Paper report produced by André Arik Schuber & Professor Craig Williams at the University of Exeter’s study is the first to measure the energy expenditure (EE) and cardiovascular responses of primary school-aged children while exercising with the CardioWall (an electronic sportswall designed and built
by Rugged Interactive).
For more information, please contact or Harry Stevens at Rugged Interactive: email@example.com or Professor Craig Williams, Director, Children's Health & Exercise Research Centre (CHERC), Sport and Health Sciences,
University of Exeter: firstname.lastname@example.org
. As yet, only one study has investigated the energy cost of children using professional exergaming equipment: Bailey BW, McInnis K. Energy cost of exergaming: a comparison of the energy cost of 6 forms of exergaming. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011;165(7):597– 602.
. Department of Health. Start Active, Stay Active: A report on physical activity from the four home countries’ Chief Medical Officers [Internet]. London, 2011 [cited 2012 Aug 9]. Available from: ps/dh_digitalassets/documents/digitalasset/dh_1 28210.pdf
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