Can You Really Get Fit With Wii Exercise Games?
Experts weigh in on the value of video game exercise.
Fitness Games: Entertainment With Activity continued...
"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
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."
ACE plans to release a study in June on the calorie expenditures of each of
the original Wii sports games. The study will show, for example, that playing
Wii golf burns about 3 to 3 1/2 calories per minute, Bryant tells WebMD. Walking a real course and
hitting an actual ball, by comparison, burns twice that many.
Likewise, a friendly game of tennis burns about 8 calories a minute, while
Wii tennis burns about 5. That's not bad for a game, Bryant says, but it still
represents almost a 50% difference. The study concluded that boxing is by far
the most strenuous of the original Wii games, burning as many as 7 calories per
minute, compared to 10 to 10 1/2 for actual sparring.
"I've watched people play the Wii boxing, and they're just wiped out," says
Bryant. "There's a lot of local muscle fatigue that occurs, but the caloric
expenditure doesn't come close to how intensely you feel you're working. That's
210 calories for 30 minutes -- that's not a whole heck of a lot. The load isn't
enough to count as strength training, but it is enough to count as muscular
Can Exercise Video Games Ever Replace the Gym?
Joseph Donnelly, EdD, an exercise physiologist and a professor of health
sport and exercise science at the University of Kansas Center for Physical
Activity and Weight Management, is skeptical about lab studies of calorie burn
during video game exercises.
"You can take someone and stick them in a lab and get them to play games and
expend a certain amount of energy, thus creating the circumstances whereby the
energy expenditure appears to be promising," he says. "Yet when these things
are translated to the general population, it's not so good."
Donnelly also points to the downward spiral of physical activity in this
country, and says that all of the exercise recommendations are currently being
ratcheted up -- not down. The CDC, Institute of Medicine, and American College
of Sports Medicine (ACSM), for example, are re-examining their guidelines to
determine whether they should increase the recommended amounts of physical