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Non-Elimination Games Leads to More Physically Active Children, Researchers Say | MomsTeam

A typical game of tic tac toe English: Tic tac...
Non-competitive games also have benefits. Image via Wikipedia

Interesting article about the value of non-elimination games (the original author focused on “non-competitive” but there are many competitive games that don’t involve elimination):

A study presented in May 2008 established that the structuring of children’s games has a significant effect on energy expenditure.

A research team led by Karla Bruggeman and David Dzewaltowski, Ph.D., measured activity during both elimination- and non-elimination games, using accelerometers, in 29 children in grades four through six. Both normal weight and overweight children participated in the study, but were not separated for analysis.

In non-elimination games, kids accrued more overall physical activity due to not having to spend time on the sidelines as a result of elimination. They also accumulated significantly more moderate and vigorous physical activity than elimination games. Both sets of games were adopted from a children’s program devised by a nonprofit group that uses various pieces of equipment to facilitate non-competitive play; elimination games were modified from non-competitive versions.

Children were surveyed for self-efficacy, enjoyment, and peer victimization following both types of games. Results showed that enjoyment was somewhat higher following elimination games, although enjoyment scores were high in non-elimination games as well. There were no reports of peer victimization in either set of games, but were significant increases in self-efficacy after both sets.

“The games in this study were part of fun and enjoyable day camp,” Bruggeman said. “It is likely that a well organized and positive game experience increases a kid’s confidence regardless of elimination or non-elimination game conditions.”

Again, the article author was focusing on non-competitive sports, but really the evidence is looking at non-elimination sports. While I don’t find anything wrong with competitive sports, I know they’re not everybody’s cup of tea, and I think it’s great to emphasize the fact that you don’t need to be playing on a team sport or competing against others in order to gain the same benefits from play. And there are lots of non-competitive physical activities that kids can and do partake in: parkour, running, climbing, digging in the dirt, parachute play, biking… what else? Name your favorite non-competitive physical activity in the comments.