It’s one of the most popular industries in this country…countless books have been published, athletes endorse their work out programs, doctors have released diets, new drugs are constantly hitting the market, and yes, video game companies have now joined in. Nintendo released its Wii Fit, which is essentially a video game that promotes fitness by playing games such as tennis, golf and boxing. It also has a more intense component to it, which includes things like yoga, running and lunges.
So the question is: Is using the Wii or the Wii Yoga and Fitness program better than regular aerobic exercise? Is it better then teenagers who would otherwise just be sitting around watching TV or playing computer or less interactive video games? What about older sedentary seniors?
Nintendo sponsored a study looking at the use of their Wii and traditional exercise. They looked at energy expenditure and heart rate across a wide variety of these Wii Fit games. The study did show that their activity levels were higher using these activities, but still lower than aerobic activities like running on a treadmill.
So while we can all probably agree that the Wii is a more fun way to exercise, it isn’t as effective as our traditional methods. On the other hand, one of our older patients who hates exercise came in and told us he started using Wii bowling, and despite straining a leg muscle, he was enjoying the extra physical activity. Bottom line- don’t use Wii as your only aerobic workout, but instead as a complement to what you or your kids already do. We also like it for cold winter or rainy summer nights when everyone’s stuck inside!