Certain Wii Games Can Provide Exercise Benefits

Playing two Wii Fit video games — step and hula — can provide adequate exercise to improve health and physical fitness, reports a study in the The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

These Wii Fit games “can be used as an effective mode of physical activity to improve health in adult women,” according to the study by students Jennifer R. Worley and Sharon N. Rogers, and their advisor, Robert R. Kraemer, EdD, FACSM, of Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond. However, the researchers emphasize that players “should strive to participate at higher (intermediate) game levels” to gain exercise benefits.

Oxygen consumption, energy expenditure, and other measures of the body’s response to exercise were assessed as players advanced through different levels of each game.

At the starting levels, neither game produced high levels of oxygen consumption or perceived exercise intensity. However, as the women advanced to the intermediate levels, the exercise intensity increased. In both the step and hula games, the intermediate level produced energy expenditure equivalent to a fairly brisk walking pace of 3.5 miles per hour.

Of the two games, the hula game provided higher oxygen consumption and energy expenditure.

“This could be attributed to the fact that the hula involves more total body movement exercise than step and uses more muscle groups,” Worley and coauthors stated in a press release.

At the intermediate level of the hula game, players could burn approximately five calories per minute.

Video games have become a popular recreational activity for many people. One study found that as many as 45% of U.S. adults play video games, with evidence that those who spend more time playing have lower physical and mental health. In recent years, several new games have been introduced that seek to incorporate physical activity into video gaming.

Based on the new findings in healthy young women, at least some Wii Fit games — particularly the Hula game — do indeed provide meaningful exercise.

“[The] findings suggest that the Wii Fit can be used as an effective activity for promoting physical health in this population,” the researchers concluded.

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