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Active Video Game Use (Exergaming) Over 10 Years (Including During COVID-19) Among Young Adults in Canada

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Objectives: Playing active video games (also known as exergaming; combining physical activity (PA) with feedback from an external device such as a mobile phone) has been suggested as a viable way to increase PA. To date, there are few longitudinal studies investigating exergaming prevalence. The objectives of this study were to examine the prevalence of exergaming by gender among young adults and to examine minutes/week exergaming.

Methods: To describe exergaming use among 586 young adults (age 20-35), we drew data from the Nicotine Dependence in Teens (NDIT) study in three cycles in 2010-12 (T1), 2017-20 (T2) and 2020-21 (T3), when participants were ages 24.0 (0.7), 30.5 (1.0) years and 33.0 (0.5), on average. The last data collection was during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. We examined past year exergaming frequency as well as the average past week minutes of exergaming.

Results: Overall, 41.8 never exergamed, 35.2 exergamed in 1 survey cycle, 17.9 exergamed in 2 survey cycles and 5.1 exergamed in all 3 survey cycles. The overall prevalence of exergaming was 42.2 , 30.0 and 14.2 , in T1, T2 and T3, respectively. Among exergamers, 43.2 , 49.4 and 54.4 were female in T1, T2, and T3, respectively. In T2 women were statistically less likely to exergame then men (p<0.005). Past week (7 days) M(SD) exergaming minutes was 95.4(132.5), 186.9 (261.3), and 219.1 (230.1) among the 99, 47 and 77 exergamers from T1, T2 and T3, respectively.

Conclusions: In a population based sample of young adults, exergaming may be an activity that is cycled though (used during different phases of life). There is little difference in the prevalence of exergaming among young adult men and women, which differs from the adolescent literature (where girls report exergaming more than boys). Those who do exergame report levels that may contribute to meeting PA guidelines, with minutes per week of exergaming increasing during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown from the previous year.


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