The second most strenuous workout on Wii Sports

The second most strenuous workout on Wii Sports, burning 5.3 kcals/min

all the way to a decent workout? An article in USA Today earlier this week says this very well may be the case. Video games have always gotten a bad rap on account of their promoting couch potato behavior, but, with this new type of “exergame” people have actually been getting off of the couch, and not just to get another bowl of chips.

So, can Wii deliver a good workout?

Not a lot of research has been conducted on the games thus far, but, a study was published in the July/August 2008 American Council on Exercise Fitness Matters. This small study had 16 people between the ages of 20-29 play on the various games in the Wii sports package for 10 minutes while their vital signs, such as heart rate, VO2 (oxygen uptake), and their perceived exertion levels were recorded.

The results showed an increase in all three variables, and thus an increase in caloric expenditure. Specifically, the participants burned between 3.1 calories (playing golf) to 7.2 calories (playing boxing) per minute. For all of the sports tested, the video game exercise burned less calories than the actual sport.

Boxing was the only Wii game tested that would be considered intense enough to maintain or improve cardiorespiratory endurance as defined by American College of Sports Medicine and the CDC. If you are wondering what the recommendations are, this link goes into great detail. But, generally speaking we are supposed to get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week.

I think that anything that encourages someone to get up and move is great, and if the alternative was going to be sitting around, all the better. But, there should be a healthy balance of real physical activity, taking advantage of the good weather whenever possible. I think its great that video games have progressed in this way, especially since I can remember spending countless hours playing Supar Mario on the original Nintendo NES, and though my thumbs definitely got quite a workout, nothing else on my body moved at all.

The American Council on Exercise is currently conductiong a study to assess the health benefits of using the more recent Wii Fit, as is the University of Mississippi, so stay tuned to find out those results.

Though I don’t own a Wii, I am interested to hear what others think of the exergames as compared to a real workout?