Effects of Active Video Games on Energy Expenditure in Adults: A Systematic Literature Review

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Nirjhar Dutta
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Mark A. Pereira
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The objective of this study was to estimate the mean difference in energy expenditure (EE) in healthy adults between playing active video games (AVGs) compared with traditional video games (TVGs) or rest.


A systematic search was conducted on Ovid MEDLINE, Web of Knowledge, and Academic Search Premier between 1998 and April 2012 for relevant keywords, yielding 15 studies. EE and heart rate (HR) data were extracted, and random effects meta-analysis was performed.


EE during AVG play was 1.81 (95% CI, 1.29–2.34; I2 = 94.2%) kcal/kg/hr higher, or about 108 kcal higher per hour for a 60-kg person, compared with TVG play. Mean HR was 21 (95% CI, 13.7–28.3; I2 = 93.4%) beats higher per minute during AVG play compared with TVG play. There was wide variation in the EE and HR estimates across studies because different games were evaluated. Overall metabolic equivalent associated with AVG play was 2.62 (95% CI, 2.25–3.00; I2 = 99.2%), equivalent to a light activity level. Most studies had low risk of bias due to proper study design and use of indirect calorimetry to measure EE.


AVGs may be used to replace sedentary screen time (eg, television watching or TVG play) with light activity in healthy adults.

Dutta was with the Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN; and is now with the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, Kansas City, MO. Pereira (perei004@umn.edu) is with the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.

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