Virtual exercise can lead to the real thing…

People who play on games consoles like the Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Xbox-Kinect are more likely to want to take more exercise according to new research.

Health psychologist Dr Angel Charter, and her team, from the University of Bedfordshire, set out to investigate whether it was possible to predict people’s physical activity intentions and whether these intentions are influenced by their mood and past behaviour. The researchers also aimed to determine whether playing or observing interactive games like the Wii and Kinect could improve people’s mood and make it more likely that they would plan to take exercise in the future.

The researchers surveyed 120 people, measuring their mood and beliefs about physical activity (for example, whether they felt it was beneficial to their health and whether they believed they had the personal control to engage in it despite any barriers they may have).

They were then asked to either play or observe the Wii or Kinect, before their mood and beliefs were measured again.

The results showed game play increased the intention of participants in the study to take future exercise compared to any activity they had done before. The same was true, though to a lesser extent, of people who had merely watched others playing. However, the type of game and console played didn’t seem to matter, they both had a positive effect on the psychological factors that are known to influence physical activity and mood.

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