Effects of school-based exergaming on urban children’s physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness: A quasi-experimental study

Sunyue Ye, Zachary C. Pope, Jung Eun Lee, Zan Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Modern-day technology is appealing to children. Few studies, however, have conducted longitudinal analyses of a school-based exergaming program's effect on physical activity (PA) behaviors and fitness in children. Therefore, this study examined the longitudinal effect of an 8-month school-based exergaming intervention on children's objectively-measured PA and cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Eighty-one fourth grade students (X̅ age = 9.23 ± 0.62; 39 girls; 54.3% African American, 30.9% Non-Hispanic White, 14.8% other) participated in this study from 2014-2015. The intervention school's children participated in a once-weekly 50-minute exergaming intervention during recess throughout the school year, while the control school continued regular recess. Children's in-school PA and sedentary behavior (SB) were measured with ActiGraphGT3X+ accelerometers, with CRF assessed via the half-mile run. All measurements were taken at baseline, mid-intervention (four months) and post-intervention (eight months). Repeated-measures two-way ANCOVAs using age and race as covariates were conducted to examine between-school differences over time for SB, light PA (LPA), moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA), and CRF.

RESULTS: Significant time by group interactions were observed for LPA, F(1, 79) = 7.82, η 2 = 0.09, p < 0.01, and MVPA, F(1, 79) = 4.58, η 2 = 0.06, p < 0.05, as LPA increased among the control group, while MVPA increased among intervention group. Children in both groups experienced decreased SB during the intervention (intervention: -7.63 minutes; control: -17.59 minutes), but demonstrated lower CRF over time (intervention: +46.73 seconds; control: +61.60 seconds).

CONCLUSIONS: Observations suggested that school-based exergaming implementation may be effective in increasing children's MVPA and decreasing their SB over the course an academic year (i.e., ~eight months). More research is needed, however, to discern how modifications to school-based exergaming might also promote improved CRF in children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4080
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Accelerometers
  • Active video games
  • Physical activity
  • School intervention
  • Sedentary behavior

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Journal Article


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