Can active video games improve physical activity in adolescents? A review of RCT

Wanda M. Williams, Cynthia G. Ayres

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Children and adolescents are not meeting the required federal physical activity (PA) guidelines established by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. It is critical that a regular pattern of PA is established in their youth to ensure ongoing PA into adulthood. However, many programs implemented during adolescence have shown limited effects, stressing the need for more innovative approaches to generate more interest and maintenance of PA behavior in this age group. Active video games (AVGs) or exergaming may prove to be an innovate process to improve PA in children and adolescents. A literature review was conducted to explore if active video games or exergaming could be an effective intervention to improve physical activity in adolescents. Active video games, also called “exergames”, are a category of video games that require movement or physical exertion to play the game. The methodology consisted of searching Academic Search Premier, CINAHL, The Cochrane Library, ERIC, PubMed, and Web of Science databases. Inclusion criteria involved only youth aged 12 to 19 years, randomized controlled trials (RCTs), and studies within the last 12 years. The following search terms were used: exergaming or active video games; physical activity or exercise; adolescents or youth; RCT or randomized clinical trial. The outcome indicates that exergaming or active video games can be an effective tool to improve PA in adolescents that will be more acceptable and sustainable than many conventional approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number669
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


  • Active video games
  • Adolescents
  • Exergaming
  • Gamification
  • Physical activity
  • Teens
  • Youth


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