|Girls race at a track meet. (QMI Agency)
A new online game may hold the key to motivating children -- particularly girls -- to be more active, a pilot study by Concerned Children's Advertisers shows.
For the study, researchers gave 253 Canadian kids between the ages of 9 and 11 a digital pedometer. The pedometer tracked the number of steps they took over a six-week period, and the participants uploaded their step numbers to an online game. For a week they wore the pedometers without playing the game before a 28-day game play period and a 7-day post-game period. They were divided into five categories based on the highest and lowest daily step counts.
In the online game, the children created an avatar that they were able to move through the virtual world of the game using their banked steps.
Researchers found that the average step count for both girls (11,851 steps) and boys (13,737 steps) were above the national average of 11,350 steps, and that the combined daily step count for all of the study participants went up 13% during game play.
A majority (56%) of girls in the most inactive group of participants moved up one activity level during game play, an increase of between 1,000 and 9,000 steps each day.
"These results are encouraging, especially since inactive girls are one of the most difficult populations to engage when it comes to physical activity," Michelle Brownrigg, director of Physical Activity and Equity at the University of Toronto, said in a release. Brownrigg's research team evaluated the results of the pilot study.