Measurement of Energy Expenditure while Playing Exergames at a Selfselected Intensity

Bryan L. Haddock*, Sarah Jarvis, Nicholas R. Klug, Tarah Gonzalez, Bryan Barsaga, Shannon R. Siegel, Linda D. Wilkin
California State University, San Bernardino, CA 92407, USA

© 2012 L. Haddock et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the California State University, San Bernardino, CA 92407, USA; Tel: (909)537-5359; Fax: (909)537-7085; E-mail:


Exergames have been suggested as a possible alternative to traditional exercise in the general population. The purpose of this study was to examine the heart rate (HR) and energy expenditure (EE) of young adults playing several different exergames, while self-selecting the component of the game to play and the intensity. A total of 117 participants, 18-35 years of age, were evaluated on one of four active video games. Participants were free to choose any component of the given game to play and they played at a self-selected intensity. The average HR and EE during the individual games were compared to resting conditions and to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines. The HR and EE increased above resting conditions during each game (p<0.05). When the results of all games were combined, the HR was 125.4 ± 20.0 bpm and the average EE was 6.7 ± 2.1 kcal/min. This HR represents an average percent of heart rate reserve of 44.6 ± 14.1, high enough to be considered moderate intensity exercise. If performed for 30 minutes a day, five days per week, the average EE would be 1,005 kcals, enough to meet the ACSM recommendations for weekly EE. Therefore, at least some exergames could be a component of an exercise program.

Keywords: Exercise, exergaming, game play, heart rate, moderate exercise, video games.