Playing two Wii Fit video games Step and Hula can provide adequate exercise to improve health and physical fitness, reports a study in the March issue of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, official research journal of the National Strength and Conditioning Association. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health. Check the end of this report for a link for online full-text reading.
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 honors students Jennifer R. Worley and Sharon N. Rogers, and their advisor, Robert R. Kraemer, Ed.D., 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.
Active Video Games Have Potential to Improve Fitness
Healthy young women were studied while playing Wii Fit games: Step, a step aerobics workout; and Hula, a simulated hula-hoop game. 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,” Ms. Worley and coauthors write. 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 up to 45 percent 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. The new study is one of the first to evaluate whether these games really provide sufficient exercise to improve health and fitness.
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 conclude. However, they stress that the games don’t provide much benefit at the starting level—players who want a real workout will need to play at the intermediate or higher game levels.
Material adapted from Wolters Kluwer Health: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Read Online / Reference
Worley, Jennifer R; Rogers, Sharon N; Kraemer, & Robert R. Metabolic Responses to Wii Fit™ Video Games at Different Game Levels. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: March 2011 – Volume 25 – Issue 3 – pp 689-693. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318207eae9