Electronic Gaming vs. Physical Activity: Which is better for human heart?

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Authors: Zain A Sobani, Ali Pervaiz, Ali Khawaja, Rehmatullah Khan: Medical Student, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan

MohsinYakub,  Senior Instructor, Dept. of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan

Posted in JPMS Volume 1, Issue 1. April-June, 2011; © 2011 Journal of Pakistan Medical Students. Orignial article

ABSTRACT

Background: Little attention has been given to the relationship of electronic gaming with energy expenditure and cardiovascular responses in young adults.  To investigate the effect of electronic gaming on heart rate in adolescents, a cross-sectional study was conducted at the Aga Khan University, Karachi.

Methods: Thirty male participants between the ages of 17 to 25 years were recruited for the study. A basal heart rate (HR0) was recorded.  They were then asked to play the first race of Burnout Paradise developed by Criterion games on a Microsoft Xbox 360 Premium. All participants played the same course at same difficulty using a standard wireless Xbox 360 controller. Heart rate was recorded after sixty seconds (HR1), one hundred five seconds (HR2) and one hundred fifty seconds (HR3). After resting for five minutes, subjects were put on bicycle ergometry to a moderate speed (5km/hour) for three minutes, thereafter another heart rate (HR4) was recorded.

Results: Heart rate increased significantly after playing for 150 seconds (HR3) compared to basal heart rate (HR0); ( 86.60 ± 16.04 /min vs  81.80 ± 15.15 /min; p=0.01). Furthermore, the direction of change was similar to what was observed between HR4 and HR0 (87.60 ± 16.79 /min vs 81.80 ± 15.15 /min; p=0.001).

Conclusion: Playing electronic games for one hundred fifty seconds exerts similar effect on heart rate as observed after three minutes of bicycle ergometry. The increase in heart rate observed with electronic gaming raises the question on the implications of increased heart rate in the absence of physical activity. Further work in a larger sample size may elaborate this relationship.

Key Words: Electronic Gaming, Physical Activity, Heart Rate