“And one, and two, and Wii…”

May 16, 2008 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

Wii Fit

With the launch of Nintendo’s Wii Fit, parents and health experts can no longer claim that video games make our kids fat.

Or can they? Just what kind of workout can you get from balancing on an expensive piece of plastic? Does a cartoon avatar offer the same kind of coaching as a personal trainer?

Doesn’t it feel a bit weird to stand shirtless, wearing Spandex shorts, in front of our favorite animated plumber Mario, who encourages you with a cheerful “Mama Mia!” every time you do a push-up?

(Just for the record, I do not know if Mario — or even Super Mario — make an appearance in Wii Fit. But the possibility of the above scenario makes me want to dust off my old Game Genie and connect it to Wii Fit to see if maybe, just maybe, there’s a hidden gym where I can virtually workout with Mario, Luigi, Toad, and the Princess.

I came across two interesting stories this morning about the hottest video game — er, exergame? — on the market: “Gaming Your Way to Fitness,” which aired on NPR, and the NYT’s “O.K., Avatar, Work With Me.”

In each story, a couple of volunteers ran through the various exercises of the game. The verdict?

Wii Fit won’t, nor should, nor aims to put your neighborhood gym out of business. You still need to get outside to walk or run around throughout the day; you still need to eat right and get plenty of rest; you still need to stretch and strengthen your muscles by doing more than a few balance moves in front of your TV.

But for people who might be uncomfortable in a locker room, want to engage in physical activity with their families, or simply enjoy the interactive nature of video games, Wii Fit can provide you with a mild aerobic workout.

For an ever-growing number of us, with ever-growing waistlines, it’s enough to make you say, “Mama Mia!

Bonus clip: Game Genie TV commercial.

Play, think…
J.R. Atwood

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Jason R. Atwood

I'm an avid trail runner and doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley who studies motivation and the relationship between the mind and body. This blog is a forum to share research, news, and musings about these topics of interest. More

Play is the beginning of knowledge.

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