Test Results Reported on Fitness Benefits of Nintendo's WII Fit and PC-Based Exergame, Dancetown

Posted: Nov 11, 2009 in

SAN DIEGO (Nov. 10, 2009)—The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America’s leading authority on fitness and one of the largest fitness certification, education and training organizations in the world, today released key findings from two separate studies conducted with University of Wisconsin La Crosse Exercise and Health Program. The studies examine the fitness benefits of Nintendo’s Wii Fit and the PC-based fitness system geared toward older adults, Dancetown. After analyzing the six most aerobically challenging activities featured in the Wii Fit—including Free Run, Island Run, Free Step, Advanced Step, Super Hula Hoop and Rhythm Boxing—the ACE study revealed underwhelming results, with the exercise intensity of most exercises proving to be milder than expected. Meanwhile, Dancetown proved to be an effective and fun alternative to traditional aerobic exercise for older adults.

“Our goal was to test the efficacy of both exergames and determine if their activities are enough to produce results that meet or go beyond recommended physical activity guidelines,” said Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D., ACE’s chief science officer. “While we found that playing the Wii Fit burns twice as many calories as a sedentary video game, the outcome of the study suggests that Wii Sports, the Wii’s suite of exergames that includes tennis, boxing, golf and bowling, is a better option and more capable of helping consumers meet minimum intensity guidelines for exercise. On the other end of the spectrum, the Dancetown study showed a significant increase in exercise intensity and calorie expenditure for all subjects as they participated in each of the program’s increasingly difficult modes.”

When played for 30 minutes, Wii Fit’s Free Run and Island Run burned an average of 165 calories—the most out of the six activities tested—and yielded the highest energy expenditures. Rhythm Boxing expended an average of 114 calories, followed by Super Hula Hoop, Advanced Step and Free Step at 111, 108 and 99 calories, respectively. In all instances, researchers found that performing the actual activity as opposed to the virtual has a significantly higher caloric expenditure. This is especially evident with conventional step aerobics, which burns almost 12 calories per minute ACE Announces Test Results on Fitness Benefits of Wii Fit and Dancetown by typically stepping up onto a six-inch high bench, verses Wii Fit’s Free Step and Advanced Step, which burn much less by stepping up onto the one- or one-and-a-half-inch balance pad provided. Similarly, its Rhythm Boxing activity burns just one third of the calories per minute of traditional boxing.

The middle-age to older participants in the Dancetown study were observed as they “danced” to three consecutive songs in each of the following difficulty levels: Easy, Moderate and Hard. Researchers discovered that for the entire 30-minute session subjects burned an average of 136 calories. With regards to Dancetown’s calorie burn equivalents, the Easy level is comparable to walking at 2.0 mph while the Hard level is similar to walking at 3.0 mph.

“When it comes to using Dancetown as a means of exercising, the Easy level is best suited as a warm-up activity, while the exercise intensity of both the Moderate and Hard levels provide a sufficient dose of exercise to maintain or improve cardiorespiratory endurance for many older adults – particularly those that are sedentary,” Bryant noted.

The Wii Fit study tested men and women between the ages of 20-24 years old and was led by John Porcari, Ph.D.; Carl Foster, Ph.D.; and Alexa Carroll, M.S. The researchers did not study the potential benefits of the Wii Fit’s balance exercises. The Dancetown study tested men and women between the ages of 32-70 years old and was led by Porcari, Foster and Jaimee Thomas, M.S., R.D. Complete summaries of both studies appear in the November/December 2009 edition of ACE’s Fitness Matters magazine and on the ACE Web site at www.acefitness.org.

About ACE

The American Council on Exercise (ACE), America’s premier certification, education and training organization, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of physical activity and protecting consumers against unsafe and ineffective fitness products and instruction. ACE sponsors university-based exercise science research and is the world’s largest nonprofit fitness certifying organization. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE Web site at www.acefitness.org.


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