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DOI: 10.2196/57198; PMCID: PMC11186795


BACKGROUND: Regular physical activity and exercise are fundamental components of a healthy lifestyle for youth living with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Yet, few youth living with T1D achieve the daily minimum recommended levels of physical activity. For all youth, regardless of their disease status, minutes of physical activity compete with other daily activities, including digital gaming. There is an emerging area of research exploring whether digital games could be displacing other physical activities and exercise among youth, though, to date, no studies have examined this question in the context of youth living with T1D.

OBJECTIVE: We examined characteristics of digital gaming versus nondigital gaming (other exercise) sessions and whether youth with T1D who play digital games (gamers) engaged in less other exercise than youth who do not (nongamers), using data from the Type 1 Diabetes Exercise Initiative Pediatric study.

METHODS: During a 10-day observation period, youth self-reported exercise sessions, digital gaming sessions, and insulin use. We also collected data from activity wearables, continuous glucose monitors, and insulin pumps (if available).

RESULTS: The sample included 251 youths with T1D (age: mean 14, SD 2 y; self-reported glycated hemoglobin A1c level: mean 7.1%, SD 1.3%), of whom 105 (41.8%) were female. Youth logged 123 digital gaming sessions and 3658 other exercise (nondigital gaming) sessions during the 10-day observation period. Digital gaming sessions lasted longer, and youth had less changes in glucose and lower mean heart rates during these sessions than during other exercise sessions. Youth described a greater percentage of digital gaming sessions as low intensity (82/123, 66.7%) when compared to other exercise sessions (1104/3658, 30.2%). We had 31 youths with T1D who reported at least 1 digital gaming session (gamers) and 220 youths who reported no digital gaming (nongamers). Notably, gamers engaged in a mean of 86 (SD 43) minutes of other exercise per day, which was similar to the minutes of other exercise per day reported by nongamers (mean 80, SD 47 min).

CONCLUSIONS: Digital gaming sessions were longer in duration, and youth had less changes in glucose and lower mean heart rates during these sessions when compared to other exercise sessions. Nevertheless, gamers reported similar levels of other exercise per day as nongamers, suggesting that digital gaming may not fully displace other exercise among youth with T1D.

Journal Title

JMIR Pediatr Parent



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DM; TD1; TD2; adolescent; adolescents; child; children; computerized game; computerized games; diabetes; diabetes mellitus; diabetic; digital game; digital games; electronic game; electronic games; exercise; exercises; exercising; gaming; mobile phone; pediatric; pediatrics; physical activities; physical activity; teen; teenager; teenagers; teens; type 1 diabetes; type 2 diabetes; youth


This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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