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Video games, technology may curtail physical activity

This is an excerpt from Lifespan Motor Development, Fifth Edition, by Kathleen M. Haywood, PhD, and Nancy Getchell, PhD.

A recent movie trailer showed one person piloting a plane while another person, a passenger, asks, “Where did you learn to fly?” The answer? “PlayStation!”

You might recognize the answer as one of the electronic game consoles that can be connected to a television. It seems as if, every year, electronic games for television or computer get better and more lifelike. You can play games based on all the major sports, both individual and team, and with many of the nuances (e.g., putting spin on your shots) of the real thing. It makes one wonder if some people will ever leave their living room to actually play the sports!

When time spent playing video games is added to the hours spent watching television and using computers, it is easy to see why there is such widespread concern about the fitness level of people, even children, in Westernized countries. Components of physical fitness can act as individual constraints to most activities; some components are more important to some kinds of physical activities than others. A lack of fitness can easily serve as a rate limiter to the performance of motor skills and the physical activities of everyday living. Indeed, fitness is related to one’s very quality of life. Of course, there is a relationship between the growth and aging of the body and of its systems (structural constraints) and the fitness components, and a relationship between functional constraints and training for the maintenance or improvement of fitness. It is important to understand how these various structural and functional individual constraints interact in the performance of skills.

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