Nintendo’s Wii Fit has become the latest craze of the summer, fueled by its ‘sold out’ status during the pre-launch stages and clever marketing tactics that led to sales of 690,000 units in May 2008.
The Wii Fit attempts to make working out fun again, encouraging the average couch potato or gamer to get up, get moving and burn a few calories while mimicking various exercise activities. But is losing weight really just fun and games, or is the Wii Fit just a glorified version of a stability ball?
How the Wii Fit Works
The Wii Fit platform is designed to encourage balance and good form as you move through a series of yoga poses, head a few soccer balls or hula hoop yourself into shape. It’s a simple white platform built with sensors; standing on different areas of the board registers your movements for your avatar on the screen. From stretching back muscles you never thought you had, to flexing those calves to maximum capacity, your goal is to earn ‘Fit Credits’ as you tackle each challenge in the game.
The Wii Fit even calculates your BMI to make sure you’re keeping up with your fitness intentions; the electronic board tracks your body weight to keep you on track with any healthy initiative, and can be programmed to keep a log of your progress and create a visual diagram of your results, you can find out more.
Key Exercises in a Wii Fit ‘Workout’
You can choose from several fun workouts that you might not otherwise ever experience in real life; tightrope walking, ice fishing and jetting down a snowboard slalom are just a few of the balance games available with the Wii Fit. Other games and activities include:
-The Push-Up Challenge
-Jogging at a light pace
The Wii Fit exercise categories are divided into stretch and strengthening exercises, and aerobics; all of the activities help engage several key muscle groups and can help improve your range of motion.
If you’re interested in learning meditation, the ‘Lotus Focus’ helps you gaze at a flame while staying as still as possible.
Burning Calories with the Wii Fit
The Wii Fit focuses primarily on deep breathing exercises and ‘core building’ routines that engage several muscle groups. Even though you can control the level of exertion, step aerobics and hula hoop routines are still fairly mild ‘workouts.’
Military.com reports on the effectiveness of the Wii Fit for burning calories; a volunteer sprinter was recently monitored by fitness Raymond Hepburn. The 21-year old female athlete tried the Hula Hoops routine (140 calories burned), Rowing Machine (188 calories burned) and Step Aerobics (112 calories burned) amongst other activities.
Raymond explains; “I’m surprised some of the Wii exercises burn so many calories but they don’t raise the heart rate as much as the rowing machine or treadmill, so you’re not really working your heart as hard….But if you are not exercising at all, this is a really good place to start.” (Source: Military.com).
Every type of physical activity burns a different amount of calories, and the amount burned varies by individual, level of exertion and the length of the workout. The Wii Fit provides several choices in activities for a low-impact routine, but very few can actually elevate the heart rate for a long enough period of time. The Wii Fit can be a great break between workouts, but the activities are not vigorous enough to get your heart pumping and boost your calorie-burning efforts for long. A combination of a healthy diet, a more intensive workout regiment – and a few rounds of Wii Fit workouts for variety – may be the best strategy for losing weight.