In a Wii State of Mind

March 06, 2009 by Lee Handke

The country has been invaded by the interactive virus known as the Nintendo Wii. The video gaming system that once seemed so elusive now seems to be readily available in every discount store and commonplace in many homes. Our house recently was invaded by the infectious Wii, and I’ve got a serious case of Wii fever. I am a competitive guy, and it really bums me out that my 3 year old son consistently beats me in bowling. I also notice that there are times I go to bed at night and my arms are a little sore from throwing fake punches, serving a virtual tennis ball, or hoisting a computer generated bass from its pixilated lake home. Either I am in particularly poor shape, or I’m getting some decent exercise while having some fun.

Can the Wii and other whole body movement video games improve fitness levels? It’s too early to tell, but in concept it certainly makes sense. Studies have shown that less than one fourth of Americans get at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days a week. Now – if we create games that are fun to play and involve whole body movement – we just may have something that begins to improve our sedentary lifestyles by engaging people in activities they love. As long as you aren’t replacing your regular fitness activities with Wii games, the additional activity should help meet fitness goals. As of now, the Wii doesn’t do much to spoon feed you fruits and veggies, so you are still on your own to get the recommended five servings a day.

A researcher at Mississippi State University, Scott Owens, recently began a six month study to assess the fitness improving ability of the Wii. He will be monitoring eight families to see if the Wii can improve overall family fitness. As we know more about the results, we will keep you updated in our BlueHealth Advantage blog. By the way… if I look tired today it was because I was up late snowboarding in a virtual half pipe. Guess this isn’t doing much for my sleep hygiene…. I’ll work on that! Until then…. Be well!

Tags:  Wii, Nintendo, video game, fitness, health