Fun and Fitness: Which Video Game Provides the Best Workout?

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Author: Megan Doyle, Ph.D.

Grade Level: Middle School/High School; Type: Other


Determine which video game elevates the heart rate best and burns the most calories.

Research Questions:

  •  Which video game elevates the heart rate highest and burns the most calories?
  • How does the number of calories burned using a video game workout compare to the number burned with traditional methods of exercise?

Video gaming systems have developed a variety of “games” designed to provide participants with a good workout. Are these games effective at burning calories, and how do they compare to traditional methods of exercise like running? Test these games by using a device that will measure heart rate and calories burned while participants workout.


  • Nintendo Wii
  • Microsoft Xbox
  • Sony PlayStation 3
  • Xbox Kinect
  • Select several workout video games to test
  • Wireless calorimeter/heart rate monitor
  • Notebook for recording results

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Select several workout games that can be used with the Wii, Xbox, and/or PlayStation 3.
  2. Ask a test subject to perform a different workout every day. Ask the test subject to do a more conventional workout (like jogging) on one of the days. Use a calorimeter/heart rate monitor to track calories burned and heart rate while exercising.
  3. Repeat test for several different subjects.
  4. Evaluate your data.

Sample table for recording data:



# of Minutes

Average Heart Rate

Calories Burned

Test Subject 1

Game 1


Game 2


Game 3


Test Subject 2

Game 1


Game 2


Game 3




Terms/Concepts: Health benefits of exercise; How are calories burned?; What types of exercise burn the most calories?

References: “How Exercise Works.” “Calories Burned During Exercise.” 

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