The influence of active video game play upon physical activity and screen-based activities in sedentary children

Kelsey E. Ufholz, Kyle D. Flack, James N. Roemmich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background Few children meet physical activity recommendations, partly due to the prevalence of screen-based sedentary activities. Active video game (AVG) play produces light to moderate physical activity. Yet, providing children access to AVG does not increase physical activity, possibly because children who play AVG may also tend towards sedentary screen-based activities. How multiple days of AVG play influences children’s choice of other activities is not yet known. Purpose To examine how AVG influences children’s physical activity, sedentary screen-based activities, and other alternative activities. Methods Sedentary children (N = 49) played AVG 3 times/week and sedentary video games (SVG) ad libitum for 6 weeks, followed by 4 weeks of ad libitum play of both AVG and SVG. Participants wore an activity monitor for 7 days and completed a 24-hour activity recall on 4 randomly selected days at baseline, week 6, and week 10. Results AVG play increased during the intervention (p < 0.01). Light activity and SVG play both decreased baseline to 10 weeks (p = 0.006) and 6 to 10 weeks (p = 0.017). Non-SVG sedentary behavior increased from baseline to 10 weeks (p = 0.005) and 6 to 10 weeks (p = 0.007). Changes over time were not observed in physical activity, or recall-measured active play, social activities, other hobbies, television or computer/phone use. Conclusion AVG play did not change children’s objectively-measured physical activity or subjectively measured active play. SVG time was substituted with other sedentary behaviors. AVG did not increase time engaged in SVG or screen-based devices.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0269057
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6 June
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, 3062-51000-51-00D. The authors would like to thank Doreen Rolshoven, Bill Siders, LuAnn Johnson, and Ethan Brown, as well as our study volunteers and their families for their assistance. The mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations does not imply endorsement from the U.S. government. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright: This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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