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Can You Really Get Fit With Wii Exercise Games?

Experts weigh in on the value of video game exercise.

Other Types of Wii Exercise Games continued...

"With the aerobics and even the strength training, the activities become more challenging and they encourage you to do more repetitions, so there is a built-in progression," Bryant says.

Throughout Wii Fit, a trainer walks you through demos, then the actual exercise. She or he (your choice) offers encouraging phrases, like "Good job!" or "You're strong." The onscreen trainer also makes comments, like a suggestion to shift your weight or, after a poor attempt, to keep training in order to improve.

Each time you weigh in, you receive a "stamp" for the day. A "fit bank" logs how many minutes you participate each day, as well as your ongoing weight and weight goals. But it does not log calorie burn, which might lead people to think they are exercising harder than they really are, says Bryant.

"It's a nice idea to take advantage of technology that's typically associated with sedentary behavior and use it with some of the gaming aspects, particularly for young people," he says of video fitness gaming. "The one caveat is that while that's certainly better than the alternative -- traditional video games -- one shouldn't use it as a substitute for the real thing."

Fitness Games: Entertainment With Activity

Nintendo isn't claiming that Wii Fit will help people lose weight -- or even become healthier. The company says it merely hoped to create a game that combines entertainment and the ability to track progress with a healthy activity.

"We hope that Wii will encourage users to be more physically active as well as spark a discussion about fitness in the household," Franklin says. "As with any other exercise, the effect has many variables, depending on the person who is working out and the level of activity."

Bryant says Wii Fit isn't likely to replace regular trips to the gym -- especially for those who are already fit.

"It's great for the person who hasn't been doing a whole lot," he says. "But for individuals who exercise quite a bit, it isn't going to be a huge challenge."

However, he adds, "I do think it has the ability, if you hang in there long enough, to be a bit more challenging for those who are already engaging in physical activity. It's not a substitute, but it could certainly be a nice complement to a regular exercise program."

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