Today's children live a very different lifestyle. Physical activity, which once included outdoor activity, has been replaced with video games. Many health officials believe video games are a contributing factor to the obesity epidemic. However, new research suggests active video games may actually burn enough calories to qualify as a form of exercise.

According to researchers from the Bloorview Research Institute, active video games are aimed to engage both upper and lower body, while offering opportunities for children to engage in multiplayer participation.

The study, which was published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, observed 18 children between the ages of 11 and 15. They participated in boxing and dancing games on Kinect for the Microsoft Xbox 360.

Researchers discovered the games increased the amount of energy a child expends by 150 percent while participating in the game Dance Central. For sports games such as Sports Boxing, a child burns up to 172 extra calories per hour. Dance Central, also increases an individual's heart rate to an average 118 beats per minute and Sports Boxing raises it to 131 beats per minutes. According to researchers, that is a 50 percent higher rate compared to their resting heart rate.

When comparing game consoles such as Nintendo's Wii and Kinect for Microsoft X-box 360, the Kinect burns more calories. Researchers believe the Kinect burns more calories because it involves motion sensors rather than a hand-held controller, which can restrain body movement.

Researchers conclude active video games are not only enjoyable for children, but also are great way to engage in light to moderate physical activity. They believe it can be an effective way to help motivate daily exercise. In addition, researchers believe if parents provide accessible and appealing alternatives for children to become physically active in the home, it can help thwart obesity.