Sports Medicine

, Volume 46, Issue 6, pp 845–860

Effects of Exergaming on Physical Activity in Overweight Individuals

  • Christoph Höchsmann
  • Michael Schüpbach
  • Arno Schmidt-Trucksäss
Systematic Review

DOI: 10.1007/s40279-015-0455-z

Cite this article as:
Höchsmann, C., Schüpbach, M. & Schmidt-Trucksäss, A. Sports Med (2016) 46: 845. doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0455-z



The majority of patients with overweight and type 2 diabetes show insufficient levels of daily physical activity (PA) and usually are among the least likely to engage in or adhere to any form of generic PA. Active video games (exergames) may be a solution to motivate these individuals to overcome their sedentary lifestyle.


This systematic review was conducted to review the current evidence for the effectiveness of exergaming in overweight and type 2 diabetes mellitus and thus to evaluate the suitability of these games to be used as tools for exercise promotion that meet current PA guidelines.


We searched electronic bibliographic databases (PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, OpenGrey, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials) up to March 2015. Randomized controlled trials (RCT) and cross-sectional studies published in English in a peer-reviewed journal and analyzing the effects of exergames on objectively measured intensity parameters of PA in overweight (body mass index [BMI] ≥25 kg/m2) adults (mean age ≥18 years) with and without type 2 diabetes were included. Study selection, data extraction, and quality assessment were performed independently by two review authors. Primary outcomes included changes in oxygen uptake (VO2), energy expenditure (EE), heart rate (HR), or activity counts. Secondary outcomes were enjoyment of treatment, exercise adherence, ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), changes in body composition, and changes in blood parameters (serum glucose, long-term blood glucose, blood cholesterol, triglycerides, or serum lactate).


Of 2845 records, 14 publications (11 studies) met the inclusion criteria. All included studies (ten experimental, cross-sectional laboratory studies and one RCT) were able to show increases in either VO2, EE, HR, or activity counts. However, effects of exergaming in terms of changes in these intensity parameters varied significantly between game modes and consoles as well as because of the vastly differing durations of exergame activity between studies. One of the included studies had a low risk of bias, and three had a high risk of bias; seven studies had an unclear risk of bias as the study description was insufficient. No studies were found investigating the changes in objectively measured PA intensity parameters in patients with type 2 diabetes.


This review suggests that exergames are able to increase PA among overweight individuals. However, the inconsistent results and the overall poor or moderate methodological quality do not permit judgment on whether exergames are suitable to meet PA guidelines in this target group. The lack of research regarding the effects of exergames in type 2 diabetes indicates a great need for future research.

Supplementary material

40279_2015_455_MOESM1_ESM.docx (22 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 22 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christoph Höchsmann
    • 1
  • Michael Schüpbach
    • 1
  • Arno Schmidt-Trucksäss
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Sports and Exercise Medicine, Department of Sport, Exercise and HealthUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland

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