News Article

Wii Fit Doesn't Improve Fitness?

Posted by Adam Russell

New study reveals it has little impact on increasing fitness levels.

It appears that a few extra minutes on the Balance Board won’t make up for that extra mince pie or second helping of Christmas pudding, according to new research made available by the University of Mississippi.

The purpose of the research was to ascertain how effective Nintendo’s Wii Fit was at increasing the fitness levels of eight participating families. By giving the families three months with the game and three months without, a range of physical attributes including aerobic fitness, balance and body composition would be recorded and analysed.

Lead researcher of the experiment Scott Owens, associate professor of health and exercise science at the University of Mississippi, found there were no major changes in daily physical activity, muscular fitness, flexibility, balance or body composition between the three months spent with Wii Fit and those without.

In addition to the above findings, the report showed that the use of Wii Fit dropped by a huge 82% over the course of the study, from an initial 22 minutes per day during the first six weeks of the experiment to just four minutes per day during the final six weeks.

In conclusion, Owens states that Wii Fit had little impact on daily fitness levels and that:

Modest amounts of daily Wii Fit use may have provided insufficient stimulus for fitness changes.

Ouch. Our own writer Kim Wild is currently using Wii Fit Plus in her own exercise regime, and so far her results are certainly more encouraging than this study would suggest. Check out her progress so far in podcast episodes nine and ten, and come back in early January to see if she can keep it up over Christmas and New Year!

[via tmcnet.com]

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User Comments (45)

jangonov

#2

jangonov said:

I used the original wii fit and lost 8 lbs in 1 1/2 weeks. Sadly, after about 2 months, it got tiring (and not in a physical sense) and I gave up on it out of boredom. Now my balance board sits under a coffee table collecting dust. I should pick it up again. Perhaps that will be a resolution for the new year for me

V8_Ninja

#3

V8_Ninja said:

AMAZING DISCOVERY!!! A fitness game doesn't help your current exercise situation!

The obvious is obvious.

DAaaMan64

#4

DAaaMan64 said:

Nintendo already knew this, and told us this. WiiFit is for encourage physical activity.

Not that it isn't a bit misleading.

maka

#5

maka said:

"the report showed that the use of Wii Fit dropped by a huge 82% over the course of the study,"

Not surprisingly, if they don't use it it can't be very effective...

Wii Fit might be just a game, but some of its activities are physical enough (like running in place) to sweat a bit. I think a little activity is always good, so for people that won't get out and do something like cycle or run, it's better than nothing.

Of course, the balance board can't do much if it's just stitting there gathering dust...

Varoennauraa

#6

Varoennauraa said:

Perspiration means good shape and losing weight, and I do sweat while Wii Fit(although I'm in good shape already!).

Perhaps they shouldn't have decreased from "an initial 22 minutes per day during the first six weeks of the experiment to just four minutes per day during the final six weeks", then. I have gotten a little tired of Wii Fit too, but not nearly as much as jogging in the rain and I'm going to refresh my Wii Fit activities with Wii Fit+ in christmas.

MarkyVigoroth

#7

MarkyVigoroth said:

"Modest amounts of daily Wii Fit use may have provided insufficient stimulus for fitness changes."
...emphasis on "modest."

Mahe

#9

Mahe said:

"In addition to the above findings, the report showed that the use of Wii Fit dropped by a huge 82% over the course of the study, from an initial 22 minutes per day during the first six weeks of the experiment to just four minutes per day during the final six weeks."

Sir, there may be a problem with the "study".

StringBeanJean

#10

StringBeanJean said:

By the end I just did the hard exercises and they would definitely help. Ten minutes of boxing, 7 minutes of Hula Hooping, 10 minutes of running, 30 pressups and situps, a minute of the 'bench'.... And then a warm down with some of the yoga. I found the whole thing got me back into exercise again and I took up rugby again this season as a near-direct consequence of getting wii fit a few months earlier (and a bike).

Sean_Aaron

#11

Sean_Aaron said:

This is a non-starter given participants reduced their activity levels. Even if they were doing "proper" exercise, if they drop down to 4min. day of course it's not going to have any effect!

You need to have the will to persist and make changes to your eating habits -- I'd argue the latter is far more critical unless you're really working off more than you're consuming calorie-wise.

I've dropped my utilisation by quite a margin. I think I was doing it 30min/day 4 days a week when I started and doing the full aerobic, muscle and yoga. Now I do 12-15min/day 3 days a week with a focus on yoga and the odd Wii Plus game which has an aerobic component (the new games are brilliant for that).

Of course I also walk to and from work to the tune of 7mi round-trip every day and do press-ups, sit-ups, leg lifts and free weights first thing in the morning on my "Wii Fit Plus" days, so I don't really need the aerobic/muscle stuff. I definitely feel that the yoga benefits me and will continue to do so as I get older (I'm committed to not being one of those hunched-over old folks shuffling down the street!).

Ryuuga

#12

Ryuuga said:

OBJECTION!!!

Of course Wii Fit won't help if people decides to use it for 20 minutes and later for 4 minutes. Even in real gym you wont change a lot with only 20 mins. Also, I didn't play Wii Fit, but if you can lose weight with DDR and even We Cheer, then I'm pretty sure with long sessions of Wii Fit you can lose a few pounds.

TrueWiiMaster

#13

TrueWiiMaster said:

This article is ridiculous. It says that flexibility and overall fitness were not improved, but if that is the case then someone did something wrong. After all, stretching is stretching. Whether it is through a game or not doesn't change the fact that it helps flexibility. Other exercises, like push ups, are similar. Whether you do them with the game or unaided, you will still get stronger.

TKOWL

#14

TKOWL said:

If you bought this game thinking you would become a Swatzenager in 5 days, you're wrong.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#16

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

When u read about research you need to read the entire study paper to see if its robust; not a press release.

Sure, Wii Fit on its own may not improve fitness; but same can be said for many hardcore gym routines ppl take on. I am a healthcare professional and see the latter often. You need lifestyle changes and a change with your relationship with food. Most ppl don't even know exactly what they've eaten during the day (and theirs robust research to back that up).

Wii Fit is great for increasing your general physical and mental well being if used appropriately. THAT'S "obvious". Why would ppl continue to buy it? Word of mouth partly?

I've done close to 150 hours since its release and its been a great end of day, after dinner, light exercise routine that has kept my bmi well within what is expected.

aaronsullivan

#17

aaronsullivan said:

Hard to call this a study. All it showed was that Wii Fit doesn't automatically force you to exercise a useful amount of time.

Stevie

#19

Stevie said:

So if I did a study that shows going to the gym doesn't help you lose weight, as the people I did the study started off going 4 times a week for 2 hour but got bored so decided to go for a hour once a week, would that be seen as a credible report, or does it merely show the people I studied didn't have a good level of commitment.

Egg_miester

#20

Egg_miester said:

maybe if people wouldn't eat so much and just spend 80% of there day sitting down it would do more but nintendo has said the game isn't for losing weight but just make people more self aware of there weight and to help then get motivated to take care of their weight

The_Fox

#21

The_Fox said:

Hell, I've known what you can get out of Wii Fit is limited since I first rented the title. For some people, any exercise is a good thing so it can't be all bad.

CH405K1N6

#23

CH405K1N6 said:

Everyone knew this already. The only reason I use Wii Fit at all is because it's fun.

M00se

#25

M00se said:

wow nice catch bonii. maybe they added girls in bikinis to help you exercise.

Varoennauraa

#29

Varoennauraa said:

I swear Wii Fit is effective exercise, if you do it 30min * 3 times times a week. If you lazy "four minutes per day during the final six weeks" in the gym, the results are the same than in this "research". WiiFit only has kept me going for far longer than any other exercise form, and with Wii Fit+ I'll keep going for another year. If you sweat, you'll get exercise, and with Wii Fit you will sweat.

Pikamander2

#30

Pikamander2 said:

People just don't seem to understand exercise.

If you exercise and eat right, you lose weight. Wii Fit is just supposed to make part of the exercise more exciting.

Ren

#31

Ren said:

it's not enough on it's own to loose weight. if a "study" is conducted by fitness professionals who are defining fitness differently than what the manufacturers state than clearly the results won't measure up. Especially since most fitness 'experts' in America define fitness as 'skinny as you can get'
Also if they don't factor in or require a set amount of participation time each day. Commitment is a separate factor that must be considered or separated as a factor.
It's like doing a study on the link between weight gain and buttery potato consumption. If you don't require the same daily consumption amount in that group than the purpose of the study shifts to commitment, because people will get bored with eating potatoes every day.

Wiifit gets boring, and even in Wiifit+ they didn't fix the customization well enough. The new games are fun and better excersize, though, just not enough. Why couldn't the whole thing consist of more of those games and ramp up to more vigorous levels at least in the US version where people want more cardio and don't value meditation/balance as a big part of fitness, (i.e. like DDR, Boxing games with achievements, Helix).

Junkface

#32

Junkface said:

Its been a while since I've been in school but does this "study" seem flawed to anyone else? If the purpose was for the fams to lose weight why would you allow them to reduce the amount of time they were using the wii fit from 22 minutes which dosn't seem like enough time to be exercising anyway. I'm a bit of a couch lump but I can at least push the last 8 minutes for a full half hour. Were the fams overweight? and by how much? what exercises were they doing? was a diet instituted as well? These are just a few variables I think one would have to consider. I have wii fit and I love it. I've lost 12 pounds since I bought it last year but i must admit I still eat alot of junk(sweets and chips). It helped a buddy of mine lose 100 pounds of course as his weight has lowered tremendously it has become more difficult for him to lose more and he now goes to the local reccreation center to work out but he still uses the wii fit when we cant get to the gym.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#34

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Wii Fit Plus is brilliant but could be better and won't "convert" anyone who has got really bored of wii fit "1" imho.

Kknight

#35

Kknight said:

Brilliant...so OWNING Wii Fit doesn't guarantee results? Well neither does OWNING a bicycle or a bowflex. You have to actually use the thing. It seriously sounds like the "study" consisted of "here we will give you a copy of Wii Fit and check on you in 3 months, then take it away and check on you in another 3." It would be far more meaningful if they said, "in order to participate in the study, you have to USE Wii Fit for 60 minutes a day" or whatever.

James

#36

James said:

I think the implication is that people assume Wii Fit is going to motivate them more than a gym membership or other piece of home equipment because it's a game and therefore fun. This study pokes holes in that, and that's all good in my books.

Adamant

#37

Adamant said:

That's completely individual, though. If you need a study to tell you you might not use something as much as you thought you were, that says more about you than the product.

Groundbreaking news! Getting a gym membership does not automatically make you want to go to the gym and work out! Consider this before signing up for one!!

TheKingOfTown

#38

TheKingOfTown said:

Why does the boxart for Wii Fit have a T rating on it?
Anyway, this game never was that great as a exercising game. My mom bought it, but she never uses it. I tried it a few times, and the only things that make you feel you've done something is the push ups and the running aerobics.

DarkEdi

#40

DarkEdi said:

If you want to exercise get EA Active, not Wii Fit. EA game really get you exercise, not minigames.

Do a review to EA Active More Workouts. I don´t know if buy it because already own previous.

Mix

#41

Mix said:

I want to know what levels they were doing. I can't see not getting benefits if you're on the higher levels. At the very least you're body will be able to stretch better, which means fewer possible injuries from normal everyday movements.

Moco_Loco

#43

Moco_Loco said:

I don't know about Wii Fit, but EA Sports Active has helped me get in the habit of exercising. I was using it every day for awhile, but I've been weaning myself off of it in favor of full-blown strength training and cardio using intervals of running, fast kick-ups or jumping jacks alternated with walking.

I'm still working on my food intake, but I've lost 13 pounds (I had lost 15 but then the parade of holidays started, so I'm just trying to maintain from now until January 1st) and I've noticed my increased strength and speed. I'm never short of breath except when exercising hard or running (not walking unless someone's in the way) up the stairs.

I think that this kind of thing was the idea behind Wii Fit in the first place. The study, though, seems flawed from the limited information in the press release.

Sylverstone

#44

Sylverstone said:

Well, the study barely shows much to me as Wii Fit may not help so much with fitness but it surely makes it fun and engaging for everyone (if that T rating doesn't contradict that last part...).

And seriously, rated T? What's so "teen" about it? I thought it would be E or E10+.

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