Wii Fit or Wii Flop?

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If you were like me, when Nintendo announced the Wii Fit, you became giddy at the idea of combining fitness and video games.  The idea that I could see incredible results by working out with nothing more than a balance board and a hand-held controller seemed incredible!  But now that the rush is over, looking back over the past two years, how successful has Wii Fit been in revolutionizing the fitness market, and is it really a good workout?

In a study by Scott Owens of the University of Mississippi, it was noted that usage of the Wii Fit decreased 82% in the first three months of ownership.  Users who typically used it 22 minutes a day on average per week when they first purchased Wii Fit quickly began using it less and less, to the point that the average daily usage the last half of the study dropped to 4 minutes per day.  The conclusion was that the Wii Fit had very little effect on the family fitness level. 

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I’m sure many of you know someone who purchased the Wii Fit and now has a rather expensive dust collector in their living room corner similar to other home fitness equipment pieces.  I’m guilty myself.  At first it seemed like an excellent opportunity to participate in “fitness” activities with my husband and children, but like the results of the University of Mississippi Study, it became quite evident that the Wii Fit was… well, boring!  But aside from that, I also found that it wasn’t enough of a workout, so..

What’s the Skinny?

The American Council on Exercise did a study involving the Wii Fit to determine what is the true level of workout possible on the Wii Fit.  The results were shocking to me.  They performed tests using six of the Wii Fit programs on men and women of average weight and minimal fitness levels, Free Run, Island Run, Free Step, Advanced Step, Super Hoola Hoop, and Rhythm Boxing, as these were the ones touted to meet the requirements for cardiovascular exercise, the primary component of a weight loss program.  Island Run and Free Run yielded the highest energy (and calorie) expenditures, but none of the Wii Fit exercises met the American College of Sports Medicine’s requirements for cardiovascular endurance.  All 6 cardio programs on the Wii Fit fell below the guidelines for fitness.

What about the Calories?

The calorie expenditures were also a bit dismal.  If performed for 30 minutes nonstop, the highest calorie burn was achieved using Free Run where the participants were pushed beyond the program requirements, and it’s calorie expenditure was only 150 calories.  The least beneficial was Free Step, which burned 99 calories for 30 minutes activity.  Compare these to their “real life” counterparts and the results are surprising.  A 30 minute run at a 11 minute/mile pace yields a 480 calorie burn, compared to the Wii fit’s 150.  Similarly a 30 minute low-impact step aerobics class burns approximately 300 calories compared to the Wii Fit’s 99. 

Why Bother?

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There are those who have said “I lost x pounds using Wii Fit.”  Keep in mind, any increase in physical activity from a completely sedentary lifestyle can cause weight loss.   Keep in mind, however, the goal is not simply a smaller waist size, but also a healthier heart.  Given the choices, a 30 minute walk with your children around the block yields much more emotional, physical, and cardiovascular benefits than a video game.  In the end, life is about choices.  If your only choice is no activity or the Wii, then definitely pick the Wii.  But if you have any other choice than the Wii, consider the benefits not only to your weight-loss, but also to your heart.  After all, I want to see you…

Moving4Life

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~ by Shawna on April 11, 2010.

2 Responses to “Wii Fit or Wii Flop?”

  1. Uh-oh…I was about to promote your blog to all our Sweeney Strongers, but don’t know if I can with this blog! LOL!!! 🙂
    Joy

    All joking aside, this is a great blog, Shawna. Great articles.

  2. Found your blog from The RHOK. Are you feeling stalked?!
    I was looking at your list of runs on the side. Did you know that the Autism Center of Tulsa also has a 5K on May 8th? If you have questions about it, let me know. http://www.autismtulsa.org
    Baloney (a.k.a. Mrs. Priss)

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