Video Games Aren't a Substitute for Physical Exercise

Sports are healthy and should be practiced at all ages. Video games aren't a substitute for physical exercise, not even active ones.
Video Games Aren't a Substitute for Physical Exercise
Andrés Felipe Cardona Lenis

Reviewed and approved by degree in physical education and sports Andrés Felipe Cardona Lenis.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Physical activity is one of the fundamental pillars of our health and it’s necessary that we do it every day, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Therefore, it’s worth clarifying that video games aren’t a substitute for physical exercise, not even those that simulate a sports situation.

One of the main rivals of physical activity is technology, as it’s been responsible for increasing the number of hours of inactivity. In the long run, this habit contributes to a sedentary lifestyle.

Many parents became aware of this and stigmatized these devices. Some console creators realized this and developed video games focused on body movement. But how useful are they? We’ll tell you what you need to know.

Can video games replace physical exercise?

Following the alert from specialists, some companies (such as Nintendo and Microsoft) have chosen to design video games that promote body movement.

This type of entertainment favors the burning of calories, even when playing from a chair. However, it’s important to clarify that the body requires and maintains a basic caloric intake even at rest. Therefore, the argument of burning calories isn’t enough to justify the replacement of physical exercise by this activity.

Interactive videogames

A teenager playing virtual soccer.

One of the objectives of interactive video games is to promote physical activity for young people. To advance with their objectives, players must dance, move their limbs, and even jump.

According to an analysis published in the Obesity Reviews magazine, active video games provide some benefits for the body of children and adolescents. However, they should be considered a complementary activity and aren’t a substitute for physical activity.

In conclusion, interactive video games aren’t in themselves negative for the health of young people, but they can’t be the only weekly exercise that youngsters perform.

At the same time, according to a study published by the Scandinavian Journal of Sports Medicine and Science, active video games are better at reducing the body mass index (BMI) of young people compared to a minimal sports intervention. However, these do not promote conventional physical activity.

The world changes and so do our habits

As a parent, your goal shouldn’t be to prohibit the use of technology but to teach your children to use it responsibly. This may be difficult for you, especially if you’re not the best example. Despite this, you must adapt to change and accept that today’s young people live in a different time than yours.

Regarding the use of consoles or the computer, we advise you to maintain some control over the playing time and the type of activity that your children carry out.

According to a publication from the University of the Balearic Islands, maintaining appropriate playtime offers a number of emotional benefits for children and adolescents.

The importance of exercise in childhood and adolescence

Beyond the prevention of a sedentary lifestyle, physical activity and exercise play a fundamental role in the development of our children. In fact, they’re considered healthy lifestyle habits by the WHO.

According to a publication of the Cuban Journal of Integral General Medicine , physical activity in the school context favors the creation of healthy habits for the present and for the future.

In addition, it favors the development of certain social skills, improves the psychological state of the child, and contributes to their physical health.

Video games and exercise, individual activities

A girl wearing a soccer uniform and holding a soccer ball while smiling.

It’s clear that video games provide certain benefits when used responsibly. For this reason, it’s not advisable to prohibit them but to regulate them.

The lives of our children shouldn’t revolve around technology and no matter what type of console is used, video games aren’t a substitute for physical exercise.

In the same vein, we advise you to motivate your children to do at least 30 minutes of physical exercise a day. Even encourage them to seek sports as a more entertaining alternative.

Both exercise and video games can be done, but they must coexist as individual and complementary activities.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.