Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Fitness & Exercise

Font Size

Wii Games Burn Calories Like a Brisk Walk

Study Shows Some Games Require the Same Energy Expenditure as Moderate-Intensity Exercise
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 17, 2009 (Orlando, Fla.) --  A new study shows that some Wii sports video games may burn as many calories as moderate-intensity exercises such as brisk walking.

"It's a very easy and fun way to start a physical activity program," says study researcher Motohiko Miyachi, PhD, of the National Institute of Health and Nutrition in Tokyo.

The study, funded by Wii maker Nintendo, shows that about one-third of the virtual games and activities in the Wii sports video and fitness packages require the same energy expenditure as moderate-intensity exercise.

"Current guidelines recommend that people engage in moderate exercise like walking or doubles tennis about 30 minutes a day, five days a week, to prevent heart disease and stroke," Miyachi tells WebMD. These games may be one way to achieve that goal, says Miyachi, who says he breaks a sweat when playing virtual tennis and basketball.

The new study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association (AHA).

Measuring Energy Expenditure

The researchers measured the energy expenditure of 12 men and women, ages 25 to 44, as they pantomimed the basic moves of Wii sports games and Wii fitness programs.

To estimate energy expenditure, they used a standard unit called METs, or metabolic equivalent values. "A MET of 3, for example, means an activity requires three times as much energy expenditure as resting," Miyachi says.

According to AHA guidelines, light-intensity exercise is less than 3 METs, moderate-intensity exercise is 3 to 6 METs, and vigorous activity is more than 6 METs. An adult walking 3 miles an hour on a flat surface expends just over 3 METs, the AHA says.

The study shows that:

  • Nine Wii activities required an energy expenditure of less than 2 METs.
  • 23 activities required 2 to 3 METs.
  • None of the activities required 3 to 4 METs.
  • Five activities required more than 4 METs.

The most intense exercise was the single-arm stand in the Wii fit package, which required an energy expenditure of nearly 6 METs. "It's a difficult resistance exercise that involves standing up and lying down," Miyachi says.

The Wii sports boxing game came in at 4 1/2 METs, while both the Wii tennis and baseball games were associated with moderate-intensity expenditures of about 3 METs.

Wii golfers and bowlers may have to get out and do the real thing to get the health benefits of exercise: both came in at less than 3 METs.

While yoga and balance exercises didn't burn as many calories as other Wii activities, they help improve flexibility and reduce the risk for falls, Miyachi says.

Barry Franklin, MD, of the William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich., tells WebMD he's all for the Wii games. "They’re fun, they're innovative, and they can be set up almost anyplace. Most importantly, they get people moving."

Healthy Living Tools

Ditch Those Inches

Set goals, tally calorie intake, track workouts and more, all via WebMD’s free Food & Fitness Planner.

Get Started

Today on WebMD

Wet feet on shower floor tile
Slideshow
Flat Abs
Slideshow
 
Build a Better Butt Slideshow
Slideshow
woman using ice pack
Quiz
 

man exercising
Article
7 most effective exercises
Interactive
 
Man looking at watch before workout
Slideshow
Overweight man sitting on park bench
Video
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply

pilates instructor
Slideshow
jogger running among flowering plants
Video
 
woman walking
Article
Taylor Lautner
Article