Idea #68 for April 27th, 2009: The Video Game Diet or Physical Fitness Through Wii

In the past, the only calories you could expect to burn while playing video games were those expended by moving your thumbs rapidly. Gaming has long been synonymous with inactivity, but the Nintendo Wii changed that when it was launched in the US in late 2006. Instead of relying on traditional game controllers, the Wii uses motion-sensing controllers and, for some games, a balance board that captures gamers’ movements. Thus, playing video games on the Wii involves some level of physical exertion.

With childhood obesity a major concern in this country, it is encouraging to hear that kids are burning calories while playing video games. While the health benefits don’t rival those of actual sports, active games like those for the Wii, do make kids expend three times the energy of normal games, a 2007 study showed. Also, a popular game called “Wii Fit” encourages users to become more healthful through tracking of BMI and other statistics.

Hopefully, the commercial success of these games will compel video game makers to produce more consoles and games that are wellness-centered. Schools or community centers can employ these systems to promote physical activity for children who would otherwise have no interest in fitness. Eventually, video gamers might be tempted to enjoy real fitness activities outdoors or in the gym, but until then, mimicing sports onscreen is certainly better than sedentary gaming.

Read more about Wii and your health in Time Magazine and Forbes Magazine.


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