Wii Video Games Offer Real Exercise

    November 16, 2009

Active Wii sports video games and some Wii fit activities may increase adults’ energy expenditure as much as moderately intense exercise, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions.

The study funded by Nintendo, found that about one-third of the virtual physical activities require an energy expenditure of 3.0 METs or above, considered moderate-intensity exercise. METs are metabolic equivalent values, a standard method of estimating energy expenditure, researchers said.


"Energy expenditure is the most important information to measure the effect of video games," said Motohiko Miyachi, Ph.D., lead author of the study and head of a physical activity program at the National Institute of Health and Nutrition in Tokyo.

Researchers found:


  •  Nine activities had less than 2 METs.
  •  Twenty-three activities had 2-3 METs.
  •  Nine activities had 3-4 METs.
  •  Five activities had more than 4 METs.

"The range of energy expenditure in these active games is sufficient to prevent or to improve obesity and lifestyle-related disease, from heart disease and diabetes to metabolic diseases," Miyachi said.

Boxing was found to be the most effective Wii sports game with an energy expenditure of about 4.5 METs. Golf, bowling, tennis and baseball are 2.0, 2.6, 3.0 and 3.0 METs, respectively.

The most effective exercise on the Wii fit is the single arm stand, with 5.6 METs. Yoga and balance exercises were significantly lower than those of resistance and aerobic exercise, but these exercises work well in improving flexibility and fall prevention.

Americans and Japanese are increasingly overweight. About one-third of adults in the United States are overweight and almost one-third are obese, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

"Obesity and overweight is increasing in Japanese men," Miyachi said. "Twenty years ago, only 20 percent Japanese middle-aged men were obese and overweight, now it is more than 30 percent."

Miyachi, who also plays active video games, recommends these active games rather than sedentary video games.

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