Posts Tagged ‘Nintendo Wii’

According to an NPD Group market research report,  800,000 people purchased Wii Fit in January of 2009 alone. This incredible demand illustrates a new shift in the gaming industry to fuel the public’s interest in health and fitness. On top of the money generated from sales, 2 million dollars were put into the University of North Carolina’s Public Health Program to study the health effects of Wii Fit and other activity-centered games such as Wii Sports, Guitar Hero, and Garage Band.

As a fitness junkie, I initially appraised these consumer-fitness items as being all marketing with little fitness behind them. So, naturally, I had to test out the system myself. I am not a health or fitness expert by any means, but I decided to give you readers my unprofessional opinion of this new brand of virtual fitness. Although the program is a nice diversion from your standard treadmill, it is not necessarily any easier than a traditional fitness regime. The strength exercises, such as lunges and side bends, are just as painful and difficult as when they are done without the game. The benefit of Wii Fit is that you have a program encouraging you to use proper technique and to stick to it. But, this program can easily be turned off or muted, or you can switch your television to your favorite program, so I am not sure if Wii Fit is that great of an investment.

Wii Fit offers four different types of fitness: yoga, aerobics, strength training, and balance games. My personal favorite was the ski slalom on the balance games section, as I enjoyed spending about 20 minutes of my day leaning to the left and the right while being visually stimulated. In all seriousness, I felt that each facet of the game was rather juvenile and seemed to isolate moves that any person could do without the aid of an expensive piece of video gaming equipment. Additionally, I got bored with the program quite fast, and feel that other people, especially those with a passing interest in fitness, may eventually feel the same. After all, despite the fancy packaging, the game is essentially a piece of plastic that you exercise on.

Nevertheless, the Wii Fit and other similar games have been found to be beneficial to your health. According to a study in the British Medical Journal, Wii active games such as Wii Bowling and Wii Boxing do require the use of more energy than inactive games, although they were not of high enough intensity to make an impact in the recommended daily amount of exercise in children. Additionally, a study by the Liverpool John Moores University in England found that the regular use of the Wii Sports console helped to burn about 1,830 calories per week, which is equal to about four Big Macs. These fitness findings make the Wii Sports program a healthy alternative to other, more sedentary games and are a step towards fitness for those individuals that rarely see the inside of a gym.

Last July, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) announced the findings from a study from the University of Wisconsin, where the Wii Sports package was found to increase heart rate, maximum oxygen intake, as well as perceived exertion. Wii Boxing in particular burned approximately 216 calories per 30 minutes of play. These findings indicate the potential health benefits that surround involvement and participation in Wii Sporting.

The ACE is beginning a study on the effects of Wii Fit presently, and those results will likely indicate whether or not the new fitness system has as much of an impact on calorie burning and health in general.

Despite the research about health benefits, it remains unknown whether the video-game intrigue will be enough to keep gamers playing the games they buy. I suppose time will tell whether Wii Fit lives up to it’s name, or if it should change its name to Wii Fad.

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