The Wii definitely has people talking and apparently, exercising! Wii was originally released in 2006 and by Christmas 2007 had people scattering, scrounging and waiting outside various stores at 5 am in ice storms for one of the precious long awaited shipment! A distinguishing feature of the console is its wireless controller, which can be used as a handheld pointing device and can detect acceleration in three dimensions. Another is the WiiConnect24, which enables it to receive messages and updates over the Internet while in standby mode. I would like to focus on the former feature and the associated buzz that Wii is providing exercise for its users.
Childhood obesity and the care of our elderly are both pressing social concerns in America. Wii seems to address both issues. Playing the Wii makes an impact on the user’s heart rate, energy expenditure and amount of calories burned. Independent studies are producing positive results that regular Wii gaming can decrease body fat, lower resting heart rate, lower BMI, and result in weight loss. There is a well documented study posted on the net by a man who added playing Wii sports into his daily activity regimen while leaving everything else the same. He too had positive results. You can find a link to his work below this article. In his study boxing produced the most drastic results.
Elder care facility members have also been reaping the benefits of this system. This was a previously untapped market for video games. Wii has managed to engage nursing home residents mentally as well as physically. It has brought out a spirit of competitiveness that has been sedentary in a majority of them for quite some time. An additional benefit to Wii gaming for seniors is that they can participate in gaming with their children and grandchildren. The Wii gives seniors and their grandchildren some common ground and an activity they can participate in together and both enjoy.
The physical benefits of Wii gaming for children is a disputed point. Wii provides more exercise than traditional gaming of course but should not encompass a child’s complete exercise regimen. It is recommended that a child receive at least 60 combined total minutes of exercise everyday. While playing Wii for 60 minutes a day would be more beneficial than watching television or playing a traditional video or computer game it should not substitute traditional play all together.
Outdoor play including participating in team sports has many benefits aside from physical activity. Social interaction, exposure to outdoor elements, exposure to new situations and environments are benefits gained from traditional play. These benefits foster imagination, creativity and a child’s sense of individuality. Furthermore, according to a study at John Moore University in Liverpool, England, playing Wii games such as Wii Bowling and Wii Sports, burns approximately 60 calories per hour. This is dramatically less calories burned than walking, running and participating in a sport.
Seniors and adults on average receive far less exercise performing their daily activities than a child. Wii gaming will have a more drastic positive effect on a person the more sedentary their lifestyle. In response to the hype about the physical benefits of Wii gaming, Wii is now marketing a product titled Wii Fit. Wii Fit is a pressure-sensitive balance board. The board is used for an array of dynamic activities including aerobics, yoga, muscle stretches and games. The activities are geared toward providing a core workout that emphasizes slower, controlled motions such as in Pilates and Yoga.
In summary, Wii gaming is being heralded for its physical benefits. These benefits are most notably being reaped by seniors who are participating in Wii gaming. When it comes to children however, Wii gaming should be considered part of a child’s active play and in no way substitute a child’s traditional outdoor play and participation in team sports.