Wii Fit is being marketed as a new form of exercise that increases physical activity and improves family fitness. A recent study conducted by Scott Owens, a UM associate professor of health and exercise science, puts this theory to the test. Owens study found that Wii Fit although great for entertainment had little effect on family fitness.
Owens conducted a 6 month study on 8 families’ use of the Wii Fit. Before the study began each families’ fitness was evaluated through the use of an accelerator which charted their physical activity. The study was split into two parts that charted the families’ physical activity without the Wii Fit and with the Wii Fit each for three months.
During the study the families’ were evaluated based on various fitness measurements as well as balance and body composition. While using the Wii Fit, each family member was tracked using software on the Wii consoles. Each family member was tracked as to how the games were used and how much body movement was involved in each use.
The study found that children did show significant increase in aerobic fitness levels after three months of Wii Fit. However, that was the only fitness result that Wii Fit produced. Over the three month period, Wii Fit did not produce any major changes in daily physical activity, balance, muscular fitness, flexibility or family fitness as a whole. The study also found that usage of Wii Fit declined over the study period as the stimulus for any fitness change was insufficient.
As with any video game or video game system, over time it becomes boring and then you are on to the next new fad. Wii Fit doesn’t compare to actual exercise. Although in theory it seems like a great idea…that’s really all Wii Fit turns out to be.
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