Wii Tennis Play for Low-Income African American Adolescents’ Energy Expenditure


Exergames, which are video games that require gross motor activity, are popular activities that produce energy expenditure. Seventy-four low-income African American 12- to 18-year-old adolescents were randomly assigned to a 30-minute condition: 1) solitary Wii tennis exergame play against virtual peers; 2) social Wii tennis exergame play against a real peer; or 3) control group with sedentary computer activity. Adolescents were tested for caloric expenditure after exposure to treatment conditions as well as on a tennis court using Actical accelerometers. Adolescents who played the social exergame against a peer expended significantly more energy than those who played alone. Both exergame groups expended more energy than the control group. Adolescents who played the social exergame also expended comparable calories to actual tennis court play during a simulated lesson. Exergames, then, could promote physical activity, thereby becoming a tool to combat the obesity crisis that is affecting many youth.

physical activity; video games; exergames; accelerometer
Author biographies

Amanda E. Staiano

Author photo Amanda E. Staiano, Ph.D., M.P.P., is now a post-doctoral research fellow in the Physical Activity and Obesity Epidemiology laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Dr. Staiano earned a Masters in Public Policy at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute and her Ph.D. in the Human Development and Public Policy track of the Psychology department at Georgetown University. Her main research focus is how physical activity and obesity impact cardiovascular risk factors and mortality in children and adults, and how digital technologies such as exergames (i.e. video games that require gross motor activity) influence adolescents' physical, cognitive, and social health.

Sandra L. Calvert

Author photoSandra L. Calvert, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Georgetown University, is the co-founder and Director of the Children’s Digital Media Center, a multi-site interdisciplinary research center funded by the National Science Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Her current research focuses on the effects of media on early development and on the effects of interactive media and food marketing on children’s diets and health. In the gaming area, she is studying how advergames can be used to improve children’s selection of, and consumption of, healthy foods and beverages, as well as how exergames, such as Wii Active, can lead to weight loss, improved friendships, improved self-efficacy, and improved cognitive functioning among low-income overweight and obese African American adolescents.

Dr. Calvert has authored more than 70 empirical journal articles and book chapters as well as seven books. Her books include Children’s Journeys Through the Information Age (McGraw-Hill, 1999), Children in the Digital Age: Influences of Electronic Media on Development (co-edited with Amy B. Jordan & Rodney R. Cocking, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002) and the Handbook of Children, Media, and Development (co-edited with B.J. Wilson, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, 2008, 2011). She has served on two committees for the National Academies, leading to four committee co-authored books including Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity (2006) and Youth, Pornography, and the Internet (2002).

Professor Calvert is a fellow of Division 7 of the American Psychological Association. She serves on Advisory Boards for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, PBS Kids Next Generation, and Children Now, and she has consulted for numerous companies to improve the quality of children’s media.


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