Digital Fitness, Nintendo Wii, Wii Fit, Wii Sports

Your children are nagging you to buy a Nintendo Wii. They claim it will be good for them. Unlike the X-Box 360 or Playstation 3, the Wii means exercise and movement and not sitting around pushing buttons. But how much exercise can you get from playing Wii Sports? Will it help burn those calories?

Fear not, your questions are now answered thanks to research published in the British Medical Journal this month. In a small study of just eleven children, researchers examined the calories burnt playing Wii Sports (Bowling, Tennis and Boxing) and Project Gotham Racing 3 on the X-Box 360. Unsurprisingly the children used more energy playing on the Wii.

Wii Sorts Bowling Wii Sorts Tennis Wii Sorts Boxing X-Box Project Gotham Racing 3
Energy Used
( KiloJoules per Kilogram per Minute)
22.2 31.5 33.9 13.7

As can be seen from the results, playing Wii Sports requires more energy than playing on a traditional games console. But, and its a big but, the intensity of the exercise when playing on the Wii is not high enough to contribute towards the recommended daily amount of exercise in children. The Wii is not a replacement for playing real sports.

Note: This was a small study on children around 14 years old and its results should be treated with caution. It also only looked at specific Wii Sport activities. Other Wii games may burn more or less energy and this study is no guide as to how many calories Wii Fit will burn.

Comparison of energy expenditure in adolescents when playing new generation and sedentary computer games: cross sectional study

Digital Fitness, Nintendo Wii, Wii Fit, Wii Sports

The GZ PC-Sport falls into the same class of exercise+gaming as the Wii Fit. However rather than being a game by its self, it is a stepping machine that plugs into your PC, Wii, XBox 360 or PS3 and if you don’t keep up a regular rhythm your PC will stop responding. This is a great way to exercise whilst doing something enjoyable.

Though it is only a stepping machine, it does also have some cerebellum training aspects to it. An undeveloped cerebellum struggles to move the limbs independently of each other. Playing any game using the GZ PC-Sport and you will have to move fingers and hands to move the games and the legs to work the stepper. This is harder than is sounds, much like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. Combined with the Wii and Wii Sports where you have to move your arms and this becomes another weapon in the arsenal for developing your cerebellum.