Wii Fit is an “exer-game” that focuses on strength training, yoga, aerobics and balance games performed using a small white balance board that looks similar to a household weight scale.
This game is a great way to introduce friendly competition between parents and children as they complete fun challenges like ski jumping and rope courses. The game tracks your progress, not only in terms of weight loss, but also with regards to balance improvements and overall fitness.
A recent ACE-commissioned study featured university students playing the six most physically taxing games included in Wii Fit. Unfortunately, none of the games were of a significant intensity to improve or maintain cardiorespiratory endurance, and all fell below recommendations for daily physical activity. Each of the activities caused the exerciser to burn a fraction of the calories they would doing the real thing. For example, even the advanced step game burned only one-fourth the calories of a step aerobics class of the same length.
As the study’s lead author John Porcari, Ph.D., stated, “I guess a little is better than nothing, but we were a little underwhelmed with the intensity of some of the exercises.” This game may be a good start for someone who is sedentary, and is certainly a fun family activity that is better than sitting on the couch watching TV, but it should not be used to replace existing workouts or viewed as a comprehensive workout regimen.
For our review, we really rated the game 5 stars, but the workout itself would be only 3 stars which is how we came to our overall 4-star rating for this product.
For additional information, see the ACE Research Study on the Wii Fit.
What we liked:
- The ease and fun of play, as well as the friendly chiding that pops up when you miss a few workouts, make this an enjoyable way to add a little more exercise to your routine.
- The ACE researchers did not look at the balance games as part of their study, but they likely provide an effective means of improving balance and strengthening the core, especially in sedentary adults.
What we didn’t like:
- The games are simply not intense enough, largely because the player is constantly interrupted by instructions during gameplay. Eliminating those mandated rests would go a long way toward keeping the player’s heart rate up.
- Much of the reduced intensity of the “step” games stems from the fact that the platform is only 1 to 1.5 inches high, compared to the 6-inch platforms commonly seen in step classes.