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Can You Really Get Fit With Wii Exercise Games?

Experts weigh in on the value of video game exercise.

Can Exercise Video Games Ever Replace the Gym? continued...

The ACSM currently recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day. But Donnelly, who is involved in a study of these guidelines, says that not only are they too modest, but they have also been "grossly misinterpreted" by the media and the public.

"We need people to be moderately active throughout most of the day," he says. "Prehistoric man engaged in moderate activity for six to eight hours a day. Those are the genes that we inherited."

Like Bryant, Donnelly cites Konami's Dance, Dance Revolution, an active game that made headlines when it was released, then quickly began gathering dust in many households. But even if people do stick with exercise games like Wii Fit, he says, the time typically spent using them is rarely enough to make a difference.

"Electronic gimmicks do not appear to be the solution for the physical inactivity problem that we have in this country," he adds. "You're not going to be able to play a Wii game for 15 or 20 or even 30 minutes and get the kind of energy expenditure that is the same as six to eight hours" throughout the day.

Bryant agrees, although he is quick to praise Nintendo for its ability to use technology in a positive manner. He just doesn't want people to use Wii Fit as an alternative to actual fitness activities.

"If you're going to substitute giving your thumbs a workout with the Wii video games for a Wii exercise game, that's a good choice, in terms of actual activity and caloric expenditure," he says. "The hope [however] is that if we can engage people in trying some of these sports through Wii, we can entice them to try the real thing and get some real exercise."

Reviewed on May 29, 2008

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