Wii Fit: Is it Really a Workout?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
"For far too long, video game consoles have limited themselves to being fun and entertaining. But with Wii Fit, the sky's the limit." That's how a parody video made by YouTube user SARCASTICGAMER opens. I recently came across this spoof on the Nintendo Wii Fit ads and just had to share it! Whether you are a Wii Fit fan or don't get what it's all about, I think everyone can appreciate the humor in this video. But all jokes aside, I think it does bring up some valid points that may answer the question: Does Wii Fit count as exercise?

If you have trouble viewing the video below, click here to see it on YouTube.

Here are some of the highlights that I wanted to point out and discuss.

"You'll love leaning side to side with Nintendo's Wii Fit. And don't miss sticking out your leg."
I have to agree that there is a lot of standing in place when it comes to using the Wii Fit. Even when I reviewed the Jillian Michaels' Fitness Ultimatum game, I was surprised to see that you literally stood on the balance board without lifting either foot to "run" in the game. It seemed a little weird to me. Why not just run—or even walk—in place? Running on the Wii Fit clearly isn't the same as running in real life. However, exercises like Wii boxing require more movement and simulate the real thing in a fun, heart-pumping way.

"Wii Fit combines the perfect balance of barely moving and doing mundane things."
I laughed a lot at that line. Doesn't anyone else find it funny that pushups in real life are hard, boring and real work, but pushups on the Wii Fit are suddenly supposed to be more fun? If doing pushups on the Wii Fit is the only way you're going to do pushups, for example, then I don't see any problem with that. But if you think that you're going to have fun doing them while watching a virtual trainer on the screen, you might be surprised to find that they're just as boring and tough on the Wii Fit as they are in real life.

"Instead of having your kids go outside and play to get exercise, why not have them stand right in front of the TV?"
While I realize that not every child is an athlete and that many children live in unsafe neighborhoods where they can't play outside, I have to agree that playing real games outside is way more fun and beneficial than pretending to play with soccer balls and hula-hoops indoors. While I adamantly believe that kids are better off playing Wii Fit than traditional, sedentary video games—after all, all physical activity is more beneficial than sitting still—it is no substitute for real sports and recreation.

"Standing in one place has never been more fun than with Nintendo's Wii Fit. Find out today why people all over the world think they're getting exercise with that little white thing you stand on. It's simple. It's easy. And you don't have to do anything."
OK, here's comes the cold, hard truth. In my professional opinion, most (but not all) Wii Fit games and "exercises" aren't a good substitute for traditional workouts. However, whether your Wii Fit workout counts as "exercise" or not depends on three factors: how hard you're working, how long you sustain that intensity level, and how fit you already are.

The important thing you need to distinguish is the difference between "activity" and "exercise," which many people tend to confuse. These are two separate things. Not all "activity" counts as exercise. For example, you are "active" when you play miniature golf, wash your car, take the stairs at the office, and—in my opinion—when you play Wii Fit games. All of these pursuits will help you achieve an active lifestyle and burn more calories than being sedentary. But they won't take the place of exercise.

Workout guidelines are very specific. For something to count as cardio, you have to elevate your heart rate to a specific level, sustain it for at least 5-10 minutes, and use your large muscle groups in a rhythmic way, like when you run, walk, dance or swim. All three of those factors must to present for something to count as cardio, for example. That means things like Wii boxing could count, if you're working hard enough and sustaining that intensity long enough. But other things like Wii hula hoop don't (it doesn't involve your major muscle groups and might not elevate your heart rate high enough).

There are specific guidelines for strength training, too, like doing enough repetitions to reach muscle fatigue, doing a variety of exercises, and continuing to progress (increase) your resistance level. While the Wii Fit does allow you to progress a little bit, there comes a point when you'll reach the highest level offered and will no longer benefit from doing the same selection of exercises.

Many of the Wii Fit exercises won't meet all of those guidelines for all people. There, I said it! But before you get upset, remember what I said above: It depends on how hard YOU work, and yes, all physical activity is beneficial, even if it doesn't fit the standard definition of exercise. I'm going to continue to review new Wii Fit games as well, because I think they're all a little different in terms of intensity and variety. Some offer more true exercise options than others, and I'm on a mission to find the best Wii Fit workout there is!

What do you think? Do you think the Wii Fit offers a good workout, or is it just fun and games? Did you find the humor in that video like I did?

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JEANUT 10/20/2019
I love using my Wii as one of my tools to help me move more. I have some games that you do walk in place (or you can even move around the room). I can't do high step ups and the low ones I can do on the Wii board are better than none.There are days I have knee problems and there are many games that make moving my arms fun and helps me to get at least some exercise on my bad days. Report
MNABOY 9/11/2019
Thanks for your point of view Report
SORASEEDO1 6/7/2019
Thanks for the info. What I do at the YMCA is much better and I like to socialize with all the people in class besides doing the exercises. Report
Great info! Thanks! Report
Thank you for these great tips, Coach Nicole! Report
I absolutely love my Wii fit U. I utilize the coach challenge for the plank. I've also tried the coach challenge for the jackknife. Those are definitely two exercises that are killers. I made 1 minute and 45 secs on the plank. I failed miserably on the jackknife, as I need to practice more. The exercises on the Wii fit U are what you make them. They have a "My Routine" that you can put the exercises you want to work on. I like the free bicycling advanced and the Free Island walking ones. One night I was going for the flags on the island walk trying to figure out how to get just three flags. I walked for nearly an hour and a half and finally had to stop because I was dead to the wind. (that was the basic one).. Geesh!! To me the workouts on the Wii fit U are awesome! Report
Great tips, Coach Nicole! Thanks! Report
This does get you fit, I have used it and it also helps with balance too,. Report
I know this is an old article, but come on... I'm an older overweight adult with really bad knees and balance issues on a tight budget. The Wii fit, especially the Wii Fit Plus gives me the ability to "take" a brisk walk in the privacy of my own home without having to worry about whether or not I went too far.
I rarely do anything on it for less than one half hour, I can use the step program at different intensities and work up a sweat doing both. There are other exercises on there a well. If my heart works and my body sweats, I'm counting that as a workout!!!
The balance exercises are important too as you age.
Wii Fit also works for kids who are too embarrassed to do activities outside or have body image issues and have been bullied.
We're not all fitness gurus; we can't all do the fitness workouts you put together.
Wii fit might not be up to your standards, but it far exceeded my expectations!!!
This is something I have always wondered about Report
I didn't see this article or the (thankfully!!) #Captioned video when this article first came out in 2009. But we've had our Wii I guess since about that time - it was a birthday gift to our son from my brother. I've enjoyed stepping up on the little white thing for quite awhile. Then our room got cluttered and I have not been able to use the little white thing until the other day when my husband and son finally moved their junk off the floor. So my little white thing will be hooked up as soon as I buy another tub of batteries to run it and the little pink controller thing and the pink "nunchuck" thing that I never remember the correct name for (maybe "nanchuk"?)... I just showed this video to my son after he heard me laughing hysterically at buying a $300 Wii Fit instead of buying a $3.99 cent hula hoop... so we had a good laugh. Report
I love my Wii fit U. My favorite is the plank challenge with the coach. I have built up my stamina to 1 minute and 45 seconds. That is pretty hard. I also practice without the Wii. If I don't feel like I got a good workout, I'll go through My Routine (I chose those exercises that I can do) again, or I'll turn off the Wii and do the exercises on my own! Yoga is a workout. Some of the moves are quite hard for me to do! There are several exercises that can be done on the Wii that are quite good, and of course, there are those that aren't. Using my Wii, I have regained my balance, built up my arms and strengthened my legs. I also workout outside, but when the weather isn't conducive, I workout with my Wii! Report
I am really disappointed in this article. I realize it is old and I am just not finding it, but really? Part of why I love Spark People is the positive attitudes. The encouragement. There are people who genuinely would sit on the couch all day and who might have next to no activity in their life. Any movement is better than none. And those who are just trying to add a fun way to spend with their kids being a little more active. Or those recovering from surgery or who have injuries/disabilities. I think this article was obviously written by and for somebody who has already gotten to their goals and who has access to the gym and are capable of high cardio as opposed to those struggling sometimes to move across the room. Walking is one of the best exercises there is, yet it doesn't necessarily get your heart pumping and sweating on. So why don't we go tell senior citizens to stop walking laps around the mall because its not exersise according to the writers who represent Spark People. Report
I love my Wii fit. We have had for a few years now. It is great when we can't get outside in our Ohio winters with snow up to our ears or summers when it is 90 degrees and 95% humidity! This past winter I developed rheumatoid arthritis in my knees and the Wii fit was the only way I could build my strength back up. Your review was so critical and negative of anyone using it. Some days, doing the island bicycle tour or the rhythm marching band would totally have me streaming with sweat.
Just remember the saying about walking a mile in someone else's shoes. I am not a runner and never will be but the Wii fit has given me some fun options to be active. Report
It can be a lot of fun but things like tennis, bowling, baseball, etc, use only one arm so you could be kind of lopsided. ;-) Report
I would like to try out a Wii Fit. I wanted to buy one, but my family didn't want one in the house. There's a lot of freedom here, not. Report
Pretty funny parody, I have to say. Looks kind of fun to me...of course, outside is preferable. Report
Does Yoga replace running? Does running replace weight lifting? Wii Fit isn't intended to replace the real activities. There is a game in which you fly in a chicken suit. Why would anyone even consider that Wii Fit was intended to replace college sports?

Games like snowboarding are intended to help eye/body coordination and fine motor balancing skill and it works. I have discovered my ankles are very weak and my center of balance is far back on my heels, which have caused me pain for years. Correcting my center of balance is taking pressure off my heels. Normal gyms don't measure center of balance or have any equipment to help work on it. So, gyms don't replace Wii Fit either, and neither do the systems that don't have a balance board to stand on.

Of course if you put in minimum effort while playing the games it won't help you. When I need more intensity and I feel comfortable with my form I will add a riser and use ankle and wrist weights. Another benefit that others have not mentioned is that it can be done in private. It can build confidence for trying other activities.

It's insulting to suggest that Wii Fit is useless for getting into shape because it pre-supposes that people attend gyms, play sports, and are in shape to begin with and Wii Fit is seeking to replace those activities.

From the testimonials it absolutely is a good form of exercise that has helped people become more active and lose weight. There are a lot of couch potatoes in North America. We should be singing it's praises as an avenue of success for some people not denigrating it for not being a replacement for the gym or real life sports. It's another option, and it's an excellent one for many people for many different reasons. Report
I have a variety of wii fit "activities". They have helped me a great deal in finding my form, endurance level, and what I can tolerate. They are good for stress breaks, and have been useful on days when I am not feeling my best. I am with you that it depends on how hard you work and your fitness level. It depends what you do.
Doing the dance videos' for me is a workout. I keep an eye on my heart rate monitor and I really get in the zone. It allows me to try things I might not, and determine if I am ready.
For me, the previous comments something is better than nothing has worked for me. Report
Alright so, I can honestly say the Wii Fit Plus has helped me lose weight. I've lost 15 pounds already in 2 months.. When I decide that I want to watch TV, I'll turn the wii fit on and do free run or free step. I found doing the running for 20 minutes really elevated my heart rate and made me exhausted. I don't stay in one spot either. I'll try to run around the living room with the wii remote. I agree that standing there and doing yoga won't help you all that much but I can say that 6-10 minutes of hula hoop and running really has helped me. Because now I can run longer then I ever have without getting overly exhausted. My dog appreciates it too since I can run with him. Report
Wii Fit was a great starting point for me a year ago when I hadn't exercised in a very long time...it was low impact, enjoyable, and not dependant on weather or time of day so I could do it consistently. After 6 months, I bought Gold's Gym Cardio Dance and Zumba for Wii, both of which stepped up my "Wii Exercise" considerably. By Spring, with better weather, I was ready to head outside for walking, hiking, and running! Sure I could have skipped the Wii at first, but I don't think I would have stuck to my exercise routine through winter if I hadn't had it to build my endurance and cardiovascular health first, and yes, I attribute Wii for doing those things for me when I was so obese. Report
I have a Wii and to be real honest...I don't feel like I work that hard on it except on certain exercises. Report
I bought myself the Wit Fit Plus and Board for Yule 2010, and I have to say, I was rather disappointed. I didn't find it to be a workout at all, and I rarely use it. In fact, I am trading it in at EBGames next week so I can get my daughter a DSi and some Pokemon game that comes with a pedometer... 20 steps = 1 watt that she can apply to her game.. She has aspergers and I bought a treadmill, it's the only way we came up with to get her on it. Her solution btw.

Back to the Wii Fit though...

I had been speed walking all last year, doing various cardio tapes like Sweatin' to the Oldies, and have my stationary bike. I found all of those to be a far better workout than the Wii. Plus it takes so long to go between workouts, routines, choose this, click that, ARGH. It wasn't for me, I was past the point of it's usefulness..

I do have Your Shape for the Wii , and it's decent for right now, and has a good 30 min yoga routine too. But I guess I have transitioned from those too, as I do Tae Bo for 60 min or hit the treadmill and jog for 20 min and powerwalk for 40.

I joke about the Wii Fit as being exercise for the couch potato, however, I retract that statement as I realized that it's not fair for those of us who have disabilities and are just getting moving, or have limited mobility.. I can definitely see it's usefulness in various applications. So for me, no it's not exercise, however, when I was 360lbs it definitely would have been!
I love my Wii Fit! No one could kid themselves into thinking a Wii Fit would be the same kind of workout as running a mile, but it definitely can get your heartrate up if you focus on it. :) And I like the strength training and yoga, especially on the Wii Fit Plus. :) It's great for a change. Plus, the chart is really helpful. :) Not a replacement for traditional workouts, but a good augmentation. :) Report
I've never broken a sweat while playing Wii Fit, but I'll tell you what I HAVE done:
had sore abs from hula-hooping for 20 minutes straight, had trouble climbing the stairs the day after a skate-boarding marathon, and had more confidence going downhill in real-life skiing after Wii Skiing. That says something about Wii Fit. Report
I am shocked that Wii Fit is not considered *real* exercise. I've had it for a couple of years and when I use it I feel like I have exercised. Granted, just lifting my heels off the board being considered walking is a stretch, or awkwardly swinging my hips to simulate a hula hoop action looks funny, but it's better than me being stretched out on the couch, lying on my side, watching TiVo'd shows. I love my Wii and it's exercise for lazy me. Report
I got the wii fit for my birthday after having my baby. before then i was a complete stranger to excercise and fitness but it helped me to ease into excercises especially with the jogging and was able to loose 5kg in 8 weeks. as someone earlier pointed, it isnt designed for hard core excercising but i have and am still enjoying it Report
My daughter brought me the wii and most pieces needed to work it and it was fun at first, but as I advanced it wasn't very challenging. I have a big problem with balance on the left side so it is great for that. The meditation is great too! I use it more so as a scale than anything else. Report
If a child is learning to read and has all the basics down, do you hand them a copy of War and Peace and tell them that they are not doing it right if they can't read it?

There are so many of us out here who don't fit into the "fitness" category this narrow blog is espousing it made me incredibly angry. I have been fat all my life...morbidly obese. My highest weight was 422 pounds, but I was over 300 pounds when I graduated high school. Do you chastise a child for riding a tricycle because they can't balance on a bike yet? Then don't chastise me for not being able to keep up with runners and movers.

Wii helped start me moving. And my gazelle. When you are unfit or have disabilities, anything that gets you going is a good thing. I can't run. I am not sure when the last time I ran was. I can barely walk right now because I broke my femur and my ankle about 18 months ago and my knee twisted out. I've had 4 operations since and they are talking of replacing my knee in August. It doesn't bend, it grinds. I cry. But I can put the Wii in and I can do a little bit and I can feel good about myself and I can do a little bit more.

Standing on the balance board may seem dumb to you, but getting that little dot to stay is a big thing for me. My knee doesn't let me do the micro corrections to keep my balance. The extensor muscles on the sides were cut to fix my femur (it broke about 3 inches above my knee which is an incredibly weird place).

I can do the yoga and I can guide a little boat through the little river by shifting my weight, course I am standing between my walker when I do it.

I can think of so many types of people who the Wii would be helpful for, the elderly, and those who can't or won't join a gym, those recovering from a whole host of injuries, from strokes to broken bones, pulled ligaments. Those who can't go outside due to weather, or safety.

You picked a few exercises and yes the running one may not do much for running but it actually does give your arms and shoulders a work out. Try some modifications, raise your arms higher instead of keeping them at your sides. In front of you, at the sides, use wrist weights.

Maybe instead of slamming those of us who can't and making fun of those of us who are still on the tricycles or learning to read, you should be thanking every star you have that you CAN run, and bike and do your cardio. Some of us will never get that far, but we still want to be as healthy as we can.

Heaviest: 422
Gastric Bypass 2003: 376
Current Weight 2011: 245.2
Goal Weight: Somewhere around 150 Report
I haven't considered Wii Fit as strength training at all. I simply use it for days that I am not feeling well, or if I haven't exercised in a few days, a good way to get back into the routine. I only stick to the Advanced step with raised platform, the boxing, and the jogging. The jogging you put the remote in your pocket and jog. Sometimes I jog in place, other times I jog back and forth in the living room. All of these exercises really up my heart rate and count as cardio for me. The only thing that frustrates me is having to wait for the game to switch in between things.

My daughter does the yoga on wii fit, and it has helped with her balance and limberness. She has also lost weight during this, I'm really not sure how because I don't consider it cardio, but I guess if you switch from watching tv to moving even a bit, it's burning just a bit more calories? Report
My parents both play Wii Fit Plus, and they absolutely love it. It keeps them both more active than they otherwise would be. I have fun with it, too, but I also run 3 days a week for a real workout. So I will agree that Wii Fit can help increase activity levels but should not be used as a substitute for exercise...unless someone gets really into it. Report
I think it's what you do with it. I bought the higher Step so that when I do the step aerobics, it is harder and gets my HR up. Also doing the yoga for 30 + min. daily has made me at least appear leaner and has definitely improved my posture which has been noticed by others. When I play tennis, I am all over my LR floor!
As someone who is very clumsy and breaks bones from falls, I appreciate all the balance exercises. Report
I agree that Wii and the Wii fit are not as beneficial as the real thing or going to the gym. That said, my children just got the Wii and I goy the Wii fit Plus for Christmas. It was a lot fun. I see using the Wii fit as another measuring tool. And to use when for some reason I can't make it to the gym. Such as this week I was snowed in one day and had no car another day. I did the Wii boxing, boxing training and hula hoop. Yep, I was sweating. Certainly not the same like in my 60min Spinning class, kickboxing or Zumba class but more than sitting and typing on my computer. And when my children are not part taking in one of their sport activities, and the weather is not for outdoor play. I rather them play Wii sports than just seat and workout their thumbs like with the other game systems (which we have as well). But that is just me! Report
i have the kinect from xbox,and the fitness games really move more however does not replace going outside but on cold or rainy days its fun, and no controller i broke a good sweat Report
I am 47 years old and don't have a ready set of people around to go out and play soccer with and sometimes I can't make it to the gym so I do plan to get a wii for those times when I want a little exercise and fun but just want to stay home. Thanks for the article though it was entertaining. Report
I don't have the Wii Fit but instead I bought the EA active game for Wii. I've played the Wii fit at my friends house but loved the EA active because it gives you a good workout combining strenght training as well as cardio. And the 6 week challenge keeps me motivated. I was hoping Nicole woulod review and give her thought on it. Maybe she will now that there is a new one coming out in November for all gaming systems. It looks great if not a little pricey at $100 but I will be the first one in line to get one. Report
On Wii Fit running you DO NOT run on the white platform. You hold the controller in your hand or put it in your pocket facing the tv. On Free run you set the timer for 20 minutes or more. Running in place fast for 20 minutes is a great workout. I run much faster than when I'm outside and have to look for tree roots, breaks in the sidewalk, rocks and so forth. It's more like a very fast treadmill workout. Report
I love wii fit plus. I combine it with wii sports and the Dance revolution. In wii sports, i do boxing and tennis. It will really make u sweat. Same with the dance revo. it's like fun aerobics. Report
My boyfriend and I went four rounds in boxing at my dad's the other day and after the 20 minutes we were both sweating. I could see it being a workout for sure. Report
Yes it is a work out. especially tennis, bowling, & boxing. Da Just dance is a good work out also. Da wii does make u sweat & help 2 lose inches & pounds. U just have 2 keep @ it & that is y I feel like I have gained. I stopped working out & laid off of da wii. On yesterday I did it all & it felt good. I am also watching what I eat & I only drink water & cranberry juice. Report
That was awesome! Loved the video!
Now I must admit that I have used DDR for exercise (hey some of those song have me moving faster than when I'm running!) I have avoided the Wii Fit.
I hope you will continue to review games and let us know when you find a real work out! Report
Wii fit is fun and you can move around and you feel like you are in part of the game. I will admit when I had a nintendo wii, this was going to be my exercise because I didn't want to do anything else like walk or join a gym. After playing it for a while, it was fun, but it was not a workout and you would have to play continuous for hours to break a sweat and really burn calories. Report
I like my Wii Fit but I don't think that it should replace exercise? I think that it is a way become more active but I don't think that it can replace real exercise. I have fun on my Wii Fit but I don't use it as exercise. Report
Wii fit i think is for someone that wants to get back into moving around again. Like after a stroke or some other type of illness. But if you want a good workout i'd suggest to just go for a walk or do some type of REAL exercise. I have to admit the Wii boxing and the dance game is alot of fun and i'm usually sweating really hard after wards. I'd recommend trying something like that to get some real exercise in. Report
My fiance and I (who are both struggling to lose weight before starting a family, and both have different issues losing weight) recently bought a wii bundle pack and a couple extra games. Do I expect to lose weight from playing Mario Bros? No. Am I activley up and moving (sweating, out of breath, truly working my muscles) every day? Yes. And that's more than I was doing before we got the wii... I am also able to track my calorie intake on my wii (we bought the game "The Biggest Loser") which makes mebe accountable for exactly what I put in to my body.I am hoping with the added activity and changing how I eat I can get back to a healthy BMI.

Also I think it is prevalent that I add in the wii works for me because I have degenerative MS and become fatigued easily. I am also in a wheel chair 80 to 90% of the time so I can take as long as I need to get through a 20 minute workout. :) Report
I borrowed the Wii Fit from a friend after I got clearance from the doctor that I could start working out after having my baby. I wanted to be able to get into some sort of shape so that I wouldn't be in a lot of pain when I went back to work from maternity leave. I have to say I didn't feel like I was getting much of a work out but after being damn near useless at work for 9 months and then sitting on my butt for a month after having my daughter, but I was able to get back into shape enough to handle my hard manual labor job with ease when I went back.

I don't think the Wii Fit is very valuable to people trying to get into hard core physical shape but for those just trying to get moving and get back into shape so they're not out of breath every time they climb stairs it is very helpful. Also, I do have to say, the Wii Fit is good but the Wii Boxing and Tennis is massive cardio rush. I was walking 6 miles a couple days a week and I still was stuggling to handle the Wii Boxing. I think I shed 5 pounds in 20 minutes. LOL Report
Any exercise is only as good as the effort that you put in. A membership to a gym, complete with personal trainers, does no good if you don't go. Tae Bo tapes sitting on a shelf gathering dust won't get a person to get in shape. Using the treadmill at home for a clothes rack is not going to burn calories.

Wii Fit is fun. I am laughing my way toward being fit (note: laughter burns extra calories!!). It does give feedback on balance and does reflect your movement, which regular DVDs don't do. The player/sparker does need to put in the effort beyond gaining points and time. I can wiggle the remote and get points, but I have to MOVE to burn calories.

It may take a little longer to burn the calories than a hard core workout/ aerobics class. But then again, since I'd probably pass out in the middle of the class I wouldn't be there!! I think in order to burn calories, a person has to enjoy what they are doing. If Wii Fit works... than work it! Report
I'm going to get me one of these, one of these days. : ) My daughter took hers with her when she moved out. I have other things I use for exersize though, currently. Report
My mother in law uses it. I guess it's fine for her as it does get her moving. But, I couldn't use it and feel accomplished. I just head to the gym. Report
It may not be as good as "real" exercise, but I have such a good time doing it! I know I'm burning more than I would be doing nothing, so it's totally worth it to me. Report