Dynamic interactive videogames can help new mothers get back into shape, study finds

Exercise using dynamic interactive videogames can have a dramatic effect on the weight and shape of new mothers in just 12 weeks, research has revealed.

Exercise using dynamic interactive videogames can have a dramatic effect on the weight and shape of new mothers in just 12 weeks, research has revealed. A study, led by scientists at Nottingham Trent University, found that new mothers were able to lose an average of 5.1kg by 'exergaming' at home for just 45 minutes every other day.

The research – published in the International Journal of Multidisciplinary and Current Research – also found that women were able to significantly reduce their waist, hip and bust circumference as well as their body mass index (BMI) and their fat mass.

Sports scientists at the University carried out the study to see if gaming at home using a Wii Fit balance board could be an effective alternative to traditional exercise.

This study has shown how dynamic interactive gaming can be a fantastic alternative to traditional exercise for new mothers.

Dr Kirsty Elliott-Sale, Nottingham Trent University

Many women do not achieve the recommended levels for physical activity and exercise after having a baby, due to factors such as lack of time, access to childcare, or reluctance to exercise in public – leading to obesity and associated weight gain which is often retained.

Researchers measured the weight, body size and fat mass of eight women who had recently given birth and then again at the end of a 12 week training programme. Participants were asked not to alter their dietary habits or undertake any additional physical activity during the course of the study.

The women carried out a range of aerobic, muscle, yoga or general training videogame exercises, across three programmes devised by the research team. Exercises included Wii Fit balance board activities such as hula-hoop, skateboard, rhythm Kung-Fu, jogging and cycling.

Weight was an average 8.2kg, or 14%, greater than the pre-pregnancy figure after giving birth, but following the study had fallen by an average of 5.1kg. Average waist circumference had dropped by 5cm, hip by more than 5cm and bust by more than 3cm.

BMI – the measure which people use to check if their weight is healthy for their height – was an average 24.4 after giving birth, but dropped to a healthier 22.5 by the end of the study. Two women who had been classed as overweight and obese were close to moving down a BMI category, while the other participants all stayed in the healthy range.

Total body fat mass, meanwhile, decreased by an average of 4kg, with the majority of body regions losing between 15-28% in fat.

We believe these kinds of activities could be an effective way of tackling obesity or additional weight gained from pregnancy.

Dr Kirsty Elliott-Sale

Dr Kirsty Elliott-Sale, who is based in Nottingham Trent University's Sport, Health and Performance Enhancement Research Group, said: "This study has shown how dynamic interactive gaming can be a fantastic alternative to traditional exercise for new mothers. Not only can it help mothers lose weight and regain their shape, but could also help to reduce any associated health risks.

"In addition, exergaming can be used to help ease new mums back into exercise, after a period of abstinence, and get them back up-to-speed before engaging in more vigorous and traditional forms of exercise.

"We believe these kinds of activities could be an effective way of tackling obesity or additional weight gained from pregnancy. Crucially, being able to exercise in this way, in the comfort of your own home, means that women are not hampered by the challenges they often face with traditional exercise."

The two year study also involved researchers from the University of Derby, Staffordshire University and University College London.

It was launched following a survey by the Royal College of Midwives and parenting website Netmums, which revealed that more than two-thirds of women were anxious about their weight after birth, while 60% felt pressurised by celebrity culture to lose weight quickly.

Dynamic interactive videogames can help new mothers get back into shape, study finds

Published on 31 January 2014
  • Category: Business; Research; School of Science and Technology

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