Nintendo Wii: Fun, But Is It Exercise?

You Sii Mii Wii!As I mentioned in a recent post, I’ve been visited by the eccentric Japanese guys driving the white Smart Car. They told me that they would like to play, and since they drove such a long way (across the Pacific apparently) I decided the least I could do was buy a Nintendo Wii. And play we did.

It’s a little over a week later, they’ve finished off all of my Sake and have motored down the road, leaving me alone to contemplate my Wii. So now that the rice wine buzz is gone what do I think of it? Is it worth the price? Is it fun? And more importantly, is playing with your Wii exercise? Way back in April I blogged about people using it as fitness regime!

Well the verdict is in on the fun part. It is. I love being able to play tennis at night. I love playing baseball whenever the desire strikes without having to call up my busy middle-aged friends and finding a free baseball diamond. I love playing a quick three holes of golf at lunch without having to take the afternoon off. And that’s all on the Wii Sports game the console comes with. There’s a proliferation of games designed to work with the Wii‘s revolutionary new motion-sensitive controller design.

But is the time I spend fiddling with my Wii time wasted, or does it do more than provide me entertainment when I should be working or reviewing cigars? This question is a bit more difficult to answer. A week later, I think I’ve noticed an improvement in the way my clothes fit and increased energy, but my bathroom scale tells me nothing has changed. The words of the scale might be enough information for some, but I’ve long suspected my scale of being a malicious, pathological liar. So I’ve decided to back that suspicion with a bit of science and fitness geekery: I donned a heart rate monitor.

We’re not talking about just any heart rate monitor here. This thing has been calibrated with my age, weight and gender. It can tell me exactly what my heart rate should be to achieve an optimal workout. It can tell me how may calories I burned, how long I worked out, and how long I achieved that optimal heart rate. And once it does all that, it’ll tell me what my Body Mass Index (BMI) is and how horribly overweight I am. In short, I have the technology to prove my bathroom scale a liar and justify my hours spend playing to my wife.

Here’s stats for an average session:

Playing Time: 35 minutes
Activities: Batting practice, Tennis, boxing practice
Target Heart Rate: 122 – 150 BPM

Heart Rate
Pre-Wii: 76 BPM
Average: 126 BPM
Highest: 158 BPM

Total Time in “The Zone”: 19:54
Calories Burned: 491

Wow. It’s hard to argue with the stats. With nearly 20 minutes spend in the optimal heart rate range and 491 calories burned, it’s safe to say this qualifies as exercise. And my scale is a damn liar. I happen to know that at a brisk 3.2 MPH walk on a 5% grade only burns around 300 calories.

So it’s exercise, but is it worth it? I already pay hefty HOA fees that include work out facilities. Is the additional money spent just redundant. Well, that all depends. Yes, it would appear redundant, but the truth of the matter is that I haven’t been using those facilities. (Excluding the sauna!) My wife takes great pleasure in pointing this out. (I swore I’d us them because of the convenience!) I am using the Wii. So while I’m not exactly being responsible with my money, I am getting exercise I wasn’t getting before. So I’m going to say yes, it is worth it. Especially if you pay the lower $250 price tag.

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12 Comments

  1. Indiana said,

    November 5, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    And this is reason enough that I have considered actually getting one…play video games and exercise…it doesn’t get much better than that.

  2. November 5, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    With WII, do you need an opponent, or can you exercise by yourself, or does it work either way?

  3. Joe Drinker said,

    November 5, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    You should post your WII access name on the blog (if it works that way)…you’ll probably end up with a whole new crop of opponents!

  4. Nicole said,

    November 6, 2007 at 3:02 am

    I have to admit that I kinda want one…

  5. Brian said,

    November 6, 2007 at 10:20 am

    Indiana,
    My rationale exactly.

    Bernie Hayden,
    You generally can do both. Wii Sports lets you play against the computer (which cheats!) or against another person. A lot of the games out there are designed for one person, but there are quite a few for multiple players.

    JD,
    Not a bad idea. Since the Wii supports wireless networking, I hooked that up. I’ve never been very into online play in the past (especially the monthly subscription part- I like to buy a game once), but it could be fun. I’ll have to see which games I have that support it.

    Nicole,
    It’s a blast. Every other day or so my wife turns it on to play tennis. This would be the first video game I’ve ever seen her play. The great thing is that Wii Sports comes with the console. You may not buy another game!

  6. James said,

    November 12, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    hehe – welcome to the world of Wii..

    Need to give me your code – I’ll be glad to send you my version of your Mii.. :D

  7. Matt said,

    November 12, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    I’ve played it a few times now. Once at a friends, the other time at my local cigar shop. The CAO rep brought his Wii and we had a golf tourney for a box of Brazilias. I came in second place. I lost to my father. I’m friggin 33 years old and I still can’t seem to beat him at anything. That was the first video game he played since we got Asteroids for the Atari 2600(I’m talking back when it first came out) and he still beats me. Anyway, it was a blast. I am taking a class with global knowledge now and they have a rewards program where you get free stuff for taking a class. I saw the Wii in the rewards catalog so I’m probably gonna get one, unless they have some kind of weird restriction on it. Love the boxing. Boxing and tennis are my two favorite games so far.

  8. Brian said,

    November 17, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    James,
    Uh… I’m not sure that sounds like a good idea…

    Matt,
    The great thing about the Wii is that everybody can enjoy playing it. Heck, my wife even plays tennis on it.

    Oh yeah, and I remember the 2600! I used to play that thing for hours and hours! I remember my dad telling me that it was probably to young to play it… until he saw me beat Adventure in record time.

    The boxing really kicks may ass! I end up throwing a marathon of punches and KO’ing the boxers in the first round, but the system only seems to catch ever third punch I throw. Not exactly what I’d call accurate, but it still is a lot of fun. The tennis is awesome, though!

  9. December 4, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    [...] and feel a bit more energetic. This also makes sense. I noticed when putting together the stats for my post on the exercise prospects of the Nintendo Wii that my heart rate sitting down was as much as 20 BPM less than it was while [...]

  10. January 6, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    [...] The clever guys behind the Wii have noticed this trend toward gaming for fitness, and are coming out with a new one that focuses on fitness called “Wii Fit.” Check it out. (Or at least watch the video clip, which is probably more useful than the article.) And while you’re at it, check out my analysis of my experience with the Wii. [...]

  11. Steven said,

    May 19, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Well, it depends on how you look at it. Even if it isn’t excercise per se, its better then sitting on the couch when playing. And Wii-Fit is actually excercise.

  12. Brian said,

    May 20, 2008 at 10:38 am

    I agree Steven, anything that gets you off the couch is positively contributing to your fitness. When I wrote this, they hadn’t even announced that Wii Fit was in the works. (Or maybe I just hadn’t seen it.) Wii Fit is abosolutely exercise. If I can get my heart rate up just messing around with Wii Sports, then Wii Fit can’t not be a work out.


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