Wii Exercise Claims Are 2% True

Dennis Faas's picture

Part of the appeal behind Nintendo's stylish little Wii this holiday season comes from the nature of its gameplay. Boasting motion-sensitivity, it challenges gamers to swing and swipe their way to victory in Wii Sports tennis or boxing. With kids and parents alike getting off the couch, Nintendo has advertised the console as great exercise and a healthy alternative to those lazy systems from Microsoft and Nintendo.

But, is it true?

According to a study by researchers at Liverpool John Moores University in England, not so much. The study examined boys and girls aged thirteen to fifteen, fitting them down with a monitoring device capable of calculating energy expenditure (and in turn, calories burned).

Four games were played by the teens for fifteen minutes each. For comparative purposes, the study also used Project Gotham Racing 3 on Microsoft's Xbox 360, a game that requires no motion outside quick thumb flashes. (Source: arstechnica.com)

The other three games all ship under the Wii Sports package that comes with every Nintendo Wii. These included Wii Sports bowling, tennis, and boxing.

Granted, the energy expenditure of the teens when playing Wii Sports was 51% greater than their time on the Xbox 360. However, the difference wasn't much to write home about. In fact, calories burned on the Wii amounted to about 60 per hour, or a fraction of the average candy bar. (Source: yahoo.com)

The study's report, which will be released soon in the British Medical Journal, stated, "In a typical week of computer play for these participants, active gaming rather than passive gaming would increase total energy expenditure by less than two percent." These are not impressive results, to say the least.

So, what conclusions can we make?

Don't assume that just because kids are moving around in the living room they're getting the exercise they need to stave off obesity and diabetes. Aside from Wii Sports boxing, most of the console's games don't challenge the player to do much more than flick their wrists in order to be successful.

Best advice? Moderate your game playing -- be it on a Microsoft console or Nintendo's -- and get outside. Let's face it, even if Wii Sports boxing burns a few calories, few obsessive Nintendo players will ever have the physique of Oscar de la Hoya.

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