Early reports regarding this innovative use of DDR received the attention and ultimate support of Konami, which joined the West Virginia partnership in an effort to place DDR in all public schools in the state.
The 24-week at-home clinical study required participants to play the game five days per week for at least 30 minutes and to record their activity while WVU monitored several health indicators over the course of the study including: weight, blood pressure, body mass index, arterial function, fitness levels and attitudes towards exercise.
The study was born out of a need to address the alarming epidemic of childhood obesity. Nidia Henderson, PEIA's Health Promotions Director, remarked, "Unfortunately, West Virginia's children do not currently have sufficient opportunities for healthful eating and regular physical activity. Dance Dance Revolution provides an appealing solution to part of the problem as a high tech, easily accessible game that can be played virtually anywhere."
The PEIA sponsored research was conducted by Dr. Linda Carson, WVU's Ware Distinguished Professor of the School of Physical Education and Emily Murphy, pediatric exercise physiologist with WVU School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics. They found that the subjects, all above the 85th percentile for body mass index according to gender and age, improved their general health and reduced their risks for lifestyle related diseases.
"One of earliest indicators of cardiovascular risk is decreased arterial function. The walls of the arteries are lined with endothelial cells which are important in allowing our blood vessels to expand properly in response to an increase in blood flow, such as during exercise," stated Murphy. "This Institutional Review Board approved study has now provided evidence that consistent playing of DDR improves arterial function in overweight children."
Dr. Carson added, "The answer is clearly more exercise, but the challenge is finding something that appeals to this generation of technologically sophisticated children. DDR combines the appeal of "screen time" within a physical activity format. We are excited that we can now demonstrate that it is a valuable health tool and something kids enjoy."
"The success of Dance Dance Revolution as a fitness tool stems from its ability to entertain 'kids' of all ages and skill levels. The game provides an inclusive experience that motivates people to get off the couch and move," said Catherine Fowler, Senior VP of Sales and Marketing at Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. "We are happy with the results announced by the State of West Virginia as it justifies the potential DDR has to have a positive and healthy effect on people's lives."
The researchers have found that although not all of the children lost weight, the majority did not gain weight while experiencing improvements in their aerobic capacity, blood vessel function and overall fitness level. Just as significantly, their attitudes towards exercise improved as did their self esteem. Murphy pointed out that, "Most of our subjects had historically felt awkward about participating in gym and physical activity at school. After the program, they demonstrated a new sense of confidence and desired to maintain their new found skills."
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