The American Council on Exercise recently released the results of its study on the fitness benefits of Nintendo’s Wii Fit and the PC-based fitness system geared toward older adults, Dancetown.
The study did not get the same results as the Nintendo-funded study which reported that one-third of the games included in Wii Sports and Wii Fit products boosted energy expenditure equivalent to 3.0 METs (1.0 MET is the metabolic equivalent of the energy expended while seated; 3.0 METs is three times that energy), which classifies it as moderate-intensity exercise. It seems that Nintendo has exaggerated some of the benefits to boost sales.
The ACE study reveals that the Wii programs burn about as many calories as walking or other “activities of life” such as gardening or cleaning house, which are considered low-intensity exercises.
Participating in the real life version of the activity such as step aerobics, running and boxing, burn quite a few more calories than the Wii Fit version. It is good for the young and older populations who want or need a low-level, low-skill activity. As far as video games go, it does burn more calories than sitting on the couch.
ACE found in another study that Wii Sports gives a slightly better workout, although it still falls short, burning less calories than the actual sports themselves. One drawback is that to get the benefits the player must play as if they were playing a real game and move their whole body, not just flick a wrist lightly.
The bottom line is that if your goal is to increase your fitness level and your overall health you’d be better off spending the $250 on a gym membership or on a personal trainer. You probably won’t get the results you’re looking for if you want to reverse type II diabetes, lower your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol, lower stress levels, loose weight or lower your risk of heart disease. If you are just trying to get a sedentary person moving more, than these two games are better than other Wii games in which you are sitting the entire time.
There’s just no substitute for the real thing.