Active video games (exergames) may provide short-term increase in energy expenditure. We explored the effects of gender and prior experience on aerobic and anaerobic energy systems contributions, and the activity profiles of 40 participants playing with a swimming exergame. We recorded oxygen consumption and assessed blood lactate after each swimming technique. We also filmed participants' gameplays, divided them into different phases and tagged them as active or inactive. Anaerobic pathway accounted for 8.9 ± 5.6% of total energy expenditure and although experienced players were less active compared to novice counterparts (η2; < 0.15, p < 0.05), physiological measures were not different between performing groups. However, players with real-swimming experience during the first technique had higher heart rate (partial-η2 = 0.09, p < 0.05). Our results suggest that short-term increase in physiological measures might happen in the beginning of gameplay because of unfamiliarity with the game mechanics. Despite low levels of activity compared to real sport, both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems should be considered in the evaluation of exergames. Game mechanics (involving the whole body) and strategies to minimize pragmatic play might be used for effective and meaningful game experience.
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