New baby Samuel is 12 wks old now and I am loving getting a bit of exercise at home thanks to my Wii Fit Plus. Yes, exercise via a video game, and it is working too. Plus it appears I might be on to something…

Computer games could be the answer to combatting diabetes according to Dr Hugh Senior, Associate Professor in the school of medicine at the University of Queensland.

New research to be undertaken at UQ’s Ipswich campus is set to examine how interactive gaming such as the Nintendo Wii can help improve diabetes sufferers’ health and quality of living.

“We’re looking at new technology as a form exercise, these new interactive games started out for children are now a new form of doing exercise,” said Senior.

A government survey conducted in 2008 showed that 61.4 per cent of adult Australians are overweight or obese.

“People are ending up with diabetes unfortunately due to the environment they’re living in and as a result the prevalence of diabetes is increasing,” said Senior. “It’s very easy to access high energy density foods and as such people are putting on more weight and also not exercising.”

Dr Senior said the correlation between weight and diabetes put a huge amount of the population at risk.

“The prevalence of diabetes type 2 has doubled over the past 20 years, seven per cent of adults now have diabetes type 2 and an additional 16 per cent of adults have glucose intolerance, a precursor for developing diabetes.”

Previous research has shown that playing the Nintendo Wii’s tennis game for 30 minutes is equivalent to a half-hour brisk walk in terms of energy expended.

“If you’re a person who doesn’t normally do exercise, you’re not going to go down and sign up at the tennis club, you might feel uncomfortable about that,” said Senior. “If you play a game of Wii, with other people who are of similar fitness levels to you then it becomes fun and motivating.”

The study is looking for 40 participants from the Ipswich area in Queensland, with type 2 diabetes. It will be random as to whether participants will be part of the experiment group or the control group.

“I’ve played it and I’m reasonably fit and the other people playing it are exercise physiologists and they get puffed,” said Senior. “I’m expecting that if you play a [Wii] tennis game three times a week, it’s going to make a difference compared to if you weren’t doing anything before.”

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