Washington, Jan 26 : If you thought that playing a video game is just about sitting and enjoying, you were surely mistaken, for Nintendo's 'Wii' will not just get people in action but also supplement their work-out.
Dalhousie University fourth-year kinesiology student Justin White discovered this unique feature of the game, by combining his love for gaming with his studies.
"I was playing Wii boxing with a friend and noticed how exerting it was. I thought to myself, 'I'm working up a sweat doing this Nintendo thing; I might run with that.' So I put together an outline and the class thought it would be a good project to take on," she said.
His class, Applications in Exercise Physiology and professor, Jo Welch, welcomed this unique experiment.
"I've always held that the 'best exercise' is exercise that a person will do. Because different activities appeal to different people, the more options that are readily available, the more likely it is that exercise will occur," she explained.
Wii is a runaway success in homes, offices and gyms, and the reason for the same is its motion-sensing controller, which contains built-in accelerometers that respond to the player's movements. This allows you to swing the remote like a tennis racket, golf club or baseball bat and this makes your "Mii" on the screen does the same. You can even add the Wii's "nunchuk" attachment for a two-fisted boxing match, the game's most intense workout.
White and 27 of his fellow classmates tested the boxing game against more traditional forms of exercise: a walk in Halifax's Point Pleasant Park and a "boxercise" video workout.
All the students engaged in each activity for 30 minutes as their classmates measured heart rates and levels of perceived exertion, how hard the participants thought they were working out.
Though everybody's report observed the numbers a bit differently, but the consensus was that it really depends on what sort of physical activity you're looking for.
"What I noticed in my findings is that the Nintendo Wii, on average, would not provide much health benefit for most people. But when I compared potential health benefits for weight management and cardiorespiratory fitness, many of the participants would receive some weight management benefits," explained Nicole Nixon, one of the participating students.
Although, Wii's boxing game isn't vigorous enough to provide a comprehensive cardiovascular workout, it can play a role in maintaining or losing body weight, especially for someone starting from a lower level of fitness.
"If they're looking for cardiovascular fitness, I'd advise them to do something else because it's really not intense enough. But if they're just looking to lose weight, it's a good way to get started. It can also be a gateway to other things, and may get people interested in the actual sports themselves too," said White.
The most energetic workout of the three trials was the boxercise video, while walking provided less exercise than the Wii.
One interesting revelation of White's report was: study participants who were gamers to begin with had a lower level of perceived exertion playing Wii boxing. In other words, it felt less like exercise because they were enjoying it more.
Thus, he believes that there's immense potential in the phenomenon that the Wii has started: interactive fitness that plays more like gaming than exercise.
"Just look at some of the other things that have been happening over the past 10, 12 years with video games in learning for kids. There are so many computer games for math, spelling, language skills - all of these things that used to be taught using books are now becoming interactive. The same thing could easily happen with exercise," he elaborated.