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Research Says Wii Fit Won't Make You Fit

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Wii Fit has become a hot trend over the past couple of years. In fact, Wii Fit is now the third best-selling video game of all time. Many people use Wii Fit as a way to get active and have fun. But is it really a workout? Can Wii Fit be used as a substitute for traditional exercise? A new study from ACE (American Council on Exercise), says "no."

The study recruited 16 volunteers, ages 20-24, to test the product. They were given a test to measure their baseline fitness level, and then practiced 6 different Wii Fit games until they could demonstrate proficiency in each. The games were Free Run, Island Run, Free Step, Advanced Step, Super Hula Hoop and Rhythm Boxing.

The results found that none of the activities was sufficient enough to maintain or improve cardiorespiratory endurance as defined by the American College of Sports Medicine. Each of the activities actually burned more calories in "real life" versus doing them virtually in the Wii Fit game. Here were the calories burned results for a 30-minute workout:

Free Run and Island Run: 165 calories
Rhythm Boxing: 114 calories
Super Hula Hoop: 111 calories
Advanced Step: 108 calories
Free Step: 99 calories

Wii Fit burns double the calories of a traditional video game, so it's better than just sitting on the couch. But according to the study, this kind of activity should not be a replacement for your regular session at the gym. If given the choice, researchers suggest using Wii Sports instead of Wii Fit, because Wii Sports involves more continuous jumping and provides a better workout.

If it comes down to it, using Wii Fit is a better option than doing nothing. As with any kind of activity, it's important to find something you enjoy, because then you're more likely to stick with it. But it's also important to understand how effective the exercise is going to be, especially if you're trying to improve your fitness level or lose weight.

Do you agree with the results of this study? Is Wii Fit a workout for you?

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I have to disagree. I actually feel the intensity is much higher than my walks or using my recumbent bike. Then again I'm doing Free Step on max pace for 30 minutes, Burning Beats for 15 minutes (and 99.9% timing), Super Hula Hoop for 10 minutes doing over 3,000 spins total, and then Basic Run Island Lap (today was 15 minutes and 144% Burn Rate). I'm exhausted, but quite pleased with my 1 hour 11 minute workout even if some study insists it isn't a 'workout'.

If you are already fit, sure it's not for you, but I've tried the EA Sport Active and even Xbox's fitness attempts, they are for the already fit no matter how 'low impact' or 'beginner' the selection. For the rest of us, there's WiiFit and WiiFitU. Considering the % of obese people out there (myself included), anything that gets people off the couch and moving should be praised, not dismissed out of hand! Report
The Wii Fit is a fine starting point; it does get you sweating a bit. However, it cannot compare to the butt-kicking power of EA Active. Those workouts can be hard! But there's lots of options for difficulty settings if you are a beginner. I've lost 35 pounds using EA Active, the treadmill, and strength training. Report
There are some games that you can put more into and they are actually pretty decent. I get worn out by some of the exercise on EA Active and it definately brings up my heart rate. Wii Fit? I don't feel like its much more work than say, doing the dishes. Report
I think a Wii Fit can be a good workout if you make sure you do it daily and for a good amount of time. Report
Honestly? The idea for Wii Fit is great. But I had much better results with Jillian Michaels Wii workout instead. I felt a much greater burn and saw more results in the long run. Its still fun and innovative, but definitely more of a "workout" and less of a "game." Report
My personal experience with the WII Fit is that it doesn't provide enough "continuous" movement for me to feel like I really workout. However, it doesn't mean that I don't use it occasionally for a quick, FUN, workout. I have a very bad knee and when it is hurting instead of not exercising, I put on the WII Fit and get in a workout that I can have fun wit. The added risers for the step and the hand and ankle weights add some resistance. I have to say that in today's world we have too many overweight kids and adults and anything we as parents can do to "Get our kids moving" is a benefit. My children love video games, not my choice of activity, but it is what it is. So I decided that if my little one's were going to play, then I want them off the couch and moving. As a family we have FUN, family nights playing. We spend quality time with the kids and we are moving. For my family it is not easy to get out and go bike riding, or other outdoor activities as much as we like, so we stay in and get moving.

I think for a beginner who hasn't moved in awhile...this is a great way to start. It helps teach them how to move, keep posture, regain balance, and it builds endurance. all while building their self-esteem. This is they key to making exercise a daily part of our lives. If you it the ground running and can't do it, then you are likely to quit. It is better to start out at a walk and work your way to a run. Report
I own the Wii, have several of the "games" and love them all. I would never assume that it replaces 30 minutes of serious cardio, or strength training, but if it gets you off the couch for a few minutes, can engage your kids to move a little and particpate with you and on their own, its better than doing nothing.
We got a Wii just before Christmas and loved it so much that we got the Wii Fit, as both my husband and I would like to drop some weight. We both love it and it's something that I think we will stick with because it's more fun that just running on the Nordic Track or using a Bowflex. I'll let you know in a few weeks if we have been successful, as we have just started using it consistently after the holidays. I think it's a great tool, if for nothing else than to make being more active fun. If you want a tougher workout it looks like there are Wii programs for that. To be continued..... Report
I do not have a Wii, but have wanted one since the Wii Fit came out. My sister has one though and loves it! She's 38 and uses it to work out every day along with her daily walk. She has gone from the high end of overweight to the middle of normal...all in just 6 months. In looking at the study, there were not enough subjects studied, there was no real age range, and look at who provided sole funding for this study. Wii Fit is not for those that are already very active, it's for those of us still sitting on the couch! Anything that helps get American's moving, and I say American's because of our severe problem with obesity, is a step in the right direction. Report
I disagree with the survey. I have had a Wii Fit for just under a year, and have been using it quite consistently. In that time, I have lost a significant amount of weight - I started in the "obese" category, and just yesterday made it into the "normal" weight category. I think the Fit was a huge help in achieving this goal. I had no reason to give in to excuses not to exercise. It was convenient and fun. I think that my health, endurance, and strength have improved greatly. Also, my confidence has improved enough that I feel comfortable now taking my exercise outside where people can see me.

I do agree with the person(s) who said that you get out of it what you put into it. The flat step is too easy, so I bought the riser. I put on leg weights and use hand weights as I do the exercises.

I love my Wii Fit!! Report
I love my Wii too. It gets me moving and sometimes that's all I need to get the bug. I feel like it is working for my kids and myself. It gets me moving and my girls. Just to get them moving is great however I don't think it should be your only type of exercise. I have added a few different games to keep me moving and have added other exercise too. Report
I have lost 50-60 pounds and it started with a wii fit, it gets you up and moving and into the habit of doing something more than just sitting on your tooshie. I'm getting my sister into it since she needs something entertaining to help her motivation, I have now developed good habits and work out without the wii fit but I still pop on to play. What ever inspires you to get up and move is the most important thing to me. I don't recommend it if your trying to be athletic though because its not a hard enough work out. Report
Wii Fit isn't really enough for me, so I bought the game Just Dance for the Wii and I (along with my entire family and all of our friends) LOVE it. You basically just do what the person on the TV is doing and it gets you moving. Even my mom who is adamant about doing any sort of physical activity does it. If I had not looked into the Wii Fit, I probably wouldn't have found Just Dance so I guess Wii Fit is a good place to start. Report
I think that it has its place. If we are doing activity and looking for ways to change it up then its another piece of "equipment" to pull out of our tickletrunk
Every little bit helps and you can always change the way you do it so that you can tailor make your activity for that session. Some things are meant to be reviewed as an alternative and this is wii system in a nutshell- anything that gets people moving and motivated... how can that be a bad thing?! Go wii !!!! Report
i love my wii fit...i sweat like a hog...i've gained good balance..etc. Way better than just sittin' there! Report
This research was not conducted very well. It needed more people and varying fitness levels. Sure, I don't get much from the Wii Fit because I workout 2 to 3 hours a day at my Dojo. However, my Dad who does not exercise at all, or my Mom who does very little could see wonderful results with using the Wii fit on a regular basis. Report
I would never look at it as an exercise REPLACEMENT, but as something that can involve the whole family + burns some calories, well, it's better than nothing! I also don't really see what's wrong with burning say 114/day doing the boxing. I'm sure if a person did that 7 days/week and took some other small steps to become healthier, they'd have no problem losing weight. Report
I completely agree with the skeptism expressed here. Only 16 participants in the study, ages 20-24??? Come on... How about you get 100+ participants aged 40-60 and have them do 30 minutes of Wii Fit or Wii Sports per day?

I agree also that the Wii should not and probably can't be a complete substitute, but look at all the people who have been inspired and motivated by the game. I'm just concerned that poorly designed studies that produce negative outcomes can and will discourage people from getting up off the couch.

The whole goal is to move more and eat less. If the Wii makes a person move more, then GO FOR IT!!

Thanks for listening to this former researcher!! :-) Report
I love my WII and use it every day.I use WIIFIT,Walk It Out,Biggest loser and EA ACtive.
I agree with people who are saying it depends on your fitness to begin with. I get out of breath from the short run, I'm not very fit so it makes perfect sense that I feel it. I also think that for some people it might be a first step on the road to fitness. It could be that some people don't want to put themselves out there straight away and that just doing this little bit of exercise could be a stepping stone to further physical activity. I hope so anyway. Report
I like to use the Wii for fun, but would not use it as a 'workout'.

I like the fact that I can use it to weigh myself and set specific calories to burn. Report
I want to get the WII Fit. Problem is- when i have the money, the stores don't have it in stock. When I don't have the money- the stores have it. I tried the regular WII sports when I was babysitting last year, and got winded. How much of a benefit will probably depend on your fitness level to begin with. Report
I don't think it's a replacement for exercising but it is a plus to play games with movement when you may be just sitting on the couch. Report
if it weren't for the wii fit plus & active, i'd still be sitting on the couch; 30 yrs ago, i loved exercise for its own sake but over the many years began to view it as boring and a huge effort. heck, i got tired just thinking about doing any calisthenics or jogging & did ....nothing! along comes this FUN nintendo game & i'm up & moving! sure, at some point, i'm going to need to head to the gym but the games have helped me WANT to change my life and my views of exercise. my weight is going down & my outlook on things is going up :=) Report
Wii only just bought one so ask me in a few months! However, I would be VERY surprised it it were any kind of substitute for the real thing! However, on those occasions when you're just too damn tired to do gym, it's probably an ok substitute? Report
When I saw it advertised on TV right before Christmas, i Knew it was another ploy to get people to believe that they will lose their holiday pounds, and knew it would not be amounting up to much, and I bet people dont use it, either when they get it, much like a rower or a exercise bike, that sits in a corner. Report
It's fun but I don't feel like I work very hard when I play.... Report
WII Fit is great and just watching my adult daughters, hubbies, and grandson when they bought this for Christmas, was all the proof I need to say it gets people up off the couch and moving. They spent so much time playing with it and all the games they had. It was a very different Christmas than past, everyone ate themselves silly and hung around on the couch and watched movies. All the laughter and movement in the house was certainly healthier no matter what weight you happen to be. I know some of my daughters friends are twiggy, and they are more out of shape that my daughter who (works out) is built more athletic like me. We can build muscle pretty easily by working out and look pretty fit. So as some have said here, it is better than sitting on the couch!! Report
It has to depend on your beginning fitness level. If it's your first step off the couch, of course it's going to help. If you're a marathoner, it's not. Report
I would never have started my weight loss journey if it wasn't for the wii fit. I had to start with something that is fun but still gets me involved I'm not into hard core workouts with jumping jacks, lunges and all that. I love the wii fit and beating my own records and yes it got me off the recliner. I still use my wii fit I've lost 26 pounds so far but I also now use my tony little gazelle and my elliptical trainer to give me more intense cardio workouts. But I still want to be a kid and play at 53 and the wii at least contributes SOMETHING to my fitness goals! I could feel changes and saw some results when I was working out with the wii 30-60 minutes a day as opposed to sitting on my recliner... so what do stuffed shirts know anyway! Is it the most serious workout you can do? nawwwwwww but sometimes all it takes for someone to START is something that makes this all fun! Report
I disagree with research Iam 67 and weighed220 in january oif this year started usingwii fit program andtrackingmy food intake and work on wii and have lost 100 lbs. i feel better nowsleep better et. i have arthritis and a bad back ifeel without the wii anfd spRK I WIOULD STILL BE OBESE Report
I agree the WII FIT and PLUS is better than doing nothing at all.

I also agree that doing other activities outside are good idea. We need to explore and be in the fresh air and enjoy life.

The mixer of all activities is a good idea and more variety. Report
I appreciate that SP included a link to the study. Many "health news" articles from other sources don't. On that point, thank you! But I agree with several of the respondents: 16 subjects, in their early twenties, does not a conclusive study make. Researchers must "publish or perish" even if the research is irrelevant. That seems to be the case here - a quick and simple bit of "research" to be published. Oh, and yes, there does appear to be bias due to who's funding the project. Report
You get out of it what you put into it. When the free step was not challenging for me, I placed the board on an aerobic step and got a good workout then from the extra height. I personally would probably get a better workout on the wii than with the real thing for hula hooping since with the game I can keep on going while with a real hula hoop I constantly drop it.

I have seen a lot of negativity about the workout "games" not "counting". If I do a body weight squat or lunge .... does it really matter if I do it in a gym, following a workout video, or following a cartoon image? The only problem I have had with working out with the wii is that since you have to hold onto the remotes, you are limited with how you add resistance. The Wii EA Active workout game helped with that by marketing a resistance band with handles slim enough to hold at the same time as the remotes. Granted many thought the band was wimpy, but you could substitute stronger bands. And now the next generation of workout games are using other methods to monitor movements so you hands are freed up to add weights. Report
I am a 45 year old woman working toward a total weight loss of 30 pounds. (20 down 10 more to go). Mornings are for my serious cardio workout. I use the Wii Fit plus and Wii Active plus as a secondary workout at the end of the day and way to spend extra fun time with my teen daughters. My goal is to have a calorie defecit of 500 every day and to achieve this, I need to keep moving, not lay on the couch at the end of the day. The Wii games fill this small whole. My family especially likes the Just Dance game and I can guarantee that 30 minutes of dancing to this will get your heart rate up and there will be sweat on your brow! Report
It definitely gives me a workout, but then I'm not 20-24 years old. I am a 62 year old overweight woman who sits at a desk all day at work. I exercise longer when I am on the Wii than when I am doing other exercises. I may not burn as many calories, but I'm not sitting on the couch as long either. Report
First, I definitely think it depends on the person's fitness level. For someone who is obese and sedentary, then this is a great first step into exercise. Also, the stretching, yoga, and balance type exercise might be useful for someone who doesn't get it in other workouts. I agree though that it shouldn't be considered a high intensity cardio workout or anything like that. It is a great tool when it comes to fitness but for serious weight loss, you will need to burn more calories than the wii fit can provide.

Also, this was discussing the games that come with the Wii fit. I wonder how games like EA Active compare? Just a thought! Report
The Wii fit does give me a workout. But I am a 42 year old woman who is obese and out of shape. For me it is a start and there are other workouts that may be purchased. I plan on doing that in the future. Report
I agree that some exercise is better than doing nothing, but I never understood the point of wii fit or the wii in general. I always see commercials of people doing yoga with these expensive systems and I think just go buy a $10 yoga video. Also, the one that really gets me is people bowling in their living rooms with wii, just go bowling. You probably would get more exercise because you would at the very least have to walk from you car to the bowling ally and you get the extra benefit of socializing. Report
I think it all depends on how hard you work and what you put into it. I love my Wii Fit Plus. I think the yoga and strength training is wonderful, the balance games are very beneficial (greatly improved my coordination and balance), and for the aerobics are actually quite good if you really push yourself at them. Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus are not substitutes for exercise, and they are not the only workout one should be doing, but I do believe that they are beneficial, and a great way to start exercising again if you've been sedentary for some time. Report
I use the wii every day 2x a day and I see the difference. I've lost 9 lbs so far . I guess it all depends on how long and well you use it. Its been helping me lose weight so in my opinion I think the studies are wrong. You just gotta stick with it and don't give up. Its great for those who don't have rhe time or money to go to the gym. Report
Regardless of this study I still believe Wii fit plus is a workout depending on a person's own fitness level, age, and general activity level. I thoroughly enjoy using my Wii fit plus to do a mixed up yoga & strength exercises in My Routine uisng various time lengths. For me it helps work on my flexiblity, body weight lifting challenges, and balance. Following that up with rhythm boxing or any of the other cardio games can really break a sweat depending on how much of "your all" you are giving to the game. I always bring my "A game" with me in any form of exercise and make it as challenging as I can. I believe the Wii fit is an excellent fitness tool for the elderly to keep them active indoors and working on coordination, balance, and aerobic levels. The Wii does not replace my elliptical, outside walks, or various strength workouts but it does add FUN, challenging balance games, and gets us off up our butts and moving with laughter.

Plus there are Wii games out there geared for more intense aerobic fitness workouts, yet those games were not mentioned or tested. Why was the study only done for that age range and not other ranges. Say adolences, teens, 20s, 30-40s, and 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80-90s. What was the average fitness levels of those 16 people?

Everyone has an an opinion, and I still am very happy with our Wii balance board, Wii fit plus, and other games that incorporate the use of the balance board. Lots of people do exercises but use improper form, at least the wii fit plus helps you work on posture and proper body balance when performing exercises. I don't use it as my only source of fitness but it sure comes in handy on rainy, hot & humid, and super cold days- it gets you active inside and off your butt zoned out in front of the tv. Report
I luv my wii fit plus! I use it for 30min to 60 minutes. I find it motivates me and my kids see and are being more active. Report
I love my Wii fit because it's fun. I could stand in my living room and jump up and down for half an hour, but it's not very motivating. Of course it doesn't "replace" a strenuous workout but it can be part of a balanced lifestyle. Plus it may motivate very sedentary people to get off the couch and who knows where it may lead them. Report
I agree with DAREDEVIL23 - 16 people and you get research grant monies AND published... What a trick! Congrats to the researchers on making money on this study! Report
I think that any type of "work out" is better than sitting on your butt doing nothing. If it can get you to move then do it. Report
I love wii fit but I do think dance revolution is a better workout! Report
I bought the Wii Fit at Christmas and I still haven't taken it out of the box...maybe this summer I will. LOL! Report
My research shows that... Wii fit is better than "couch potato" but not as good as running a marathon.
Where do I collect my research grant money? LOL Report
I use the EA Sport Active and I know that the workout that I get is better than the ones that I've had with personal trainers. I sweat and workout hard. Not all Wii programs are intense, but if you want one they are available. Report
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