The Magic Gadget That Could Hook You on Exercise

wii fit stuffA friend, who's just had her third child, posted a question on Facebook asking if she could get a workout from Wii Skiing.

She can't. And neither can you. No Wii games are especially effective calorie burners. Even the fitness games like Wii Fit only burn about 240 calories an hour. You can torch twice that on the elliptical machine or running.

But there's some good news for her: Doctors are calling Wii games something of a "gateway drug" to real exercise.

They burn about the same number of calories as slow, moderate walking and given that most people play the games for extended periods of time, that can add up to some small fitness gains. And those little improvements can spur someone to go to the gym or for a real walk or bike ride.


I'd call this the "Guitar Hero" phenomenon. Lots of people decided, after loving Guitar Hero or Rock Band, that they would take up the guitar for real, only to find it's a lot harder to shred like Eddie Van Halen when the screen isn't telling you what note to play next. Similarly, I could see a lot of people trying new sports or activities because they tried it and liked it on the Wii.

Fitness breeds fitness, after all. If you're a couch potato, it's pretty darn easy to stay that way, and if you're faithful with your workouts, you're a lot more likely to think a weekend hike or evening bike ride sounds like a fun idea.

And really, if it gets people off the couch, who cares if it's not the workout of the century? It's still fun, and if it gets one more person to join the 30 percent of Americans who exercise regularly, so much the better.

The PlayStation Move, which works a lot like a Wii, just hit stores a few weeks ago, and the XBox Kinect is coming. It uses your whole body as a controller and left me panting after checking it out a few months ago.

Do you feel worked out by the Wii?


Image via heystarcade/Flickr

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