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Wii May Have Wee Effect on Calories

Study: The Computer Game Wii Gets Kids Moving, but Not Enough to Replace Other Physical Activity
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Active Computer Games and Exercise

Dec. 20, 2007 -- Got a child with a Wii on their holiday wish list? Don't count on them burning tons of calories playing Wii Sports games.

A new study shows that kids playing the active computer game Wii Sports burn 60 more calories per hour than while playing Xbox 360, a sedentary computer game.

But they would burn far more calories playing the real sports, report experts at the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences in Liverpool, England.

On one hand, the researchers point out that many kids are inactive, and Wii Sports at least gets them moving.

But they conclude that kids need more activity than they can get from a computer game, even an active one.

"The energy used when playing active Wii Sports games was not of high enough intensity to contribute towards the recommended daily amount of exercise in children," write Gareth Stratton, PhD, and colleagues.

Wii Sports Study

Stratton's team studied 11 healthy teens aged 13-15 who play hockey, volleyball, soccer, or rugby for their schools. The teens also play sedentary computer games.

Each teen spent 15 minutes playing a sedentary computer game -- Project Gotham Racing 3 on the Xbox 360 system. After a brief rest, they played Wii bowling, Wii tennis, and Wii boxing games of Wii Sports, playing each sport for 15 minutes.

As they played, the teens wore devices that gauged their physical activity.

That device didn't capture the teens' arm movements. That oversight might have led to underestimates of how many calories the teens burned.

Still, Stratton's team concludes that in a typical week of computer gaming, Wii Sports would only bump up burned calories by 2%.

The findings appear in BMJ, formerly called the British Medical Journal.

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