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Sports Equipment Technology

Wii Fit Doesn't Get You as Fit as You Think

July 22, 2010


Many people use the Wii Fit system to exercise in the privacy of their own home without having to buy all new equipment. This may save money on a home gym, but the workout they are receiving is not even comparable, said the New York Times.

Even though users of the Nintendo console are not very prone to serious injury, they are also not challenging their body enough for it to even count as exercise. Writer Matt Richtel even says that using the Wii Fit does not even count as cardio in most cases, and that you are better off going for a jog instead of virtual hula-hooping.

An almost year-long study was done after the Wii Fit program was released a couple years ago, and there was a surprising amount of injuries. Richtel said that a researcher at Ohio State University found that about 308 of the injuries called for an emergency room visit. This comes from his data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which “records emergency room visits from 100 hospitals and then extrapolates injuries nationwide.”

The study also discovered that even with those injuries, it is actually more of a risk to lift weights or use equipment at the gym than it is to stay at home and use the Wii balance board. Scientifically, someone exercising with weights at the gym is “four times more likely to visit the emergency room with an injury;” and that those who use the treadmill are one and a half times more likely to hurt themselves.

A sports website based in Singapore has used the term “exergaming.” They agree with the Times’ Richtel, and also bring up a few good points of their own. They say supporters of the activity feel as though it’s more enjoyable to reap the benefits of a workout while playing your favorite game instead of running around a track. Red Sports also mentions that users like the fact that you can digitally track your progress as well. Another plus is that it gets the young and the elderly moving without risking any physical harm or putting too much strain on themselves. There are, however, negative effects as the Times mentioned.

One disadvantage is that Wii users are susceptible to becoming addicted to virtual workouts, and thus may never step foot in a gym, or ever outdoors. Also, they mention that “the real intensity and human touch of the actual sport may be lost as players are not able to interact with other players and feel the intensity of an actual game.” Overall, this isolates the person from others and is not as social as a gym experience can be. Even just the simple trips from your door to the gym’s door can most likely burn extra calories.

As an added bonus, going to the gym in general burns about twice as many calories per minute than doing a similar activity using the Wii console, and Red Sports also agrees with this statement. At least the Wii users had the right idea, but now it is time for them to get up and out the door!

Jaclyn Genovese is a TMCnet Contributing Editor. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi