Stephen Yang
Image Available Soon


Stephen P. Yang is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Kinesiology at The Pennsylvania State University. He completed his BS at St. Francis Xavier University, Canada and his MS at the University of New Brunswick, Canada.

Yang's research deals with the use of innovative technology in both teaching and research settings. His master's thesis investigated the effectiveness of a web-delivered problem-based learning module in applied exercise physiology. While at Virginia Tech, he assisted the design, implementation, and assessment of Log It, a website that allows individuals or groups to record their steps from a pedometer.

Yang's main area of research includes increasing physical activity levels for adolescents through the integration of technology in the physical education curriculum. His dissertation explores the use of video games (exergames) as a stimulus for voluntary physical activity. Specifically, he is measuring the duration and intensity of adolescent physical activity while playing /exergames/ and their attractiveness to playing these games.


Sweatin' with Nintendo: Exergaming for Health
Thursday & Friday

Statement of Interest
Excessive playing of computer/video games has been accused of contributing to overweight and obesity among young Americans. However, recent multimodal interfaces allow game players to control virtual experiences by moving their bodies, essentially introducing exercise into gaming. Our session examines the potential of these exergames to increase physical activity and reduce medical complications associated with overweight and obesity.

The percentage of overweight adolescents in the United States has more than doubled in the past twenty years (CDC, 2004). Health risks associated with obesity can be reduced by adding as little as 20-30 minutes of physical activity into daily routines. Yet a third of American adolescents and 50% of adults fail to meet this minimum requirement, prompting policy makers to declare an "obesity epidemic" in the US.

Some research has suggested that increases in the number of overweight and obese youth are partially due to television viewing and videogame use. In particular, the "couch potato hypothesis" suggests that videogames displace time that could be spent engaging in physical activities (Vandewater et al., 2004). Interventions designed to reduce the time that children play videogames have also shown significant reductions in obesity-related health measures (Robinson, 1999).

The couch potato hypothesis assumes that videogame players sit on comfortable chairs in front of screens pressing buttons. However, a new generation of multimodal games and controllers, exergames, are forcing players to become physically active. Low-cost cameras and advanced video processing algorithms allow videogames to be controlled by bodily movements (e.g., Sony's EyeToy games), and touch sensitive floor sensors allow players to dance in virtual spaces (e.g., Konami's Dance Dance Revolution). Stories of people using these multimodal controllers to lose weight have appeared on Internet sites (e.g., and in the popular press.

A Interactive Exhibit describes existing exergames and presents a taxonomy of their potential effects on physical fitness. We will also discuss two pilot studies that illustrate the benefits of exergaming on health. The first, performed with 9-18 year olds, demonstrates how exergames motivate youth to engage in high levels of aerobic activity. The second is a longitudinal case study of a person with type 2 diabetes who lost weight and increased blood sugar control during three months of exergaming. Finally, we use the results of these studies to suggest a design framework for future exergames that considers the roles of motivation and feedback in keeping game players involved in long-term physical activity in virtual worlds.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2004). Physical activity and good nutrition: Essential elements to prevent chronic diseases and obesity 2004. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Robinson, T. N. (1999). Reducing children's television viewing to present obesity: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, 282(16), 1561-1567.

Vandewater, E. A., Shim, M., & Caplovitz, A. G. (2004). Linking obesity and activity level with children's television and video game use. Journal of Adolescence, 27(1), 71-85.

Click here to close the window.