Does a Wii really get you fit?9th June 2009
A new generation of video games that requires people to move more may encourage physical fitness, according to a recent study.
In one case, the video games provided exercise benefits equivalent to that of light jogging.
In another case, people in their retirement managed to raise their heart levels by playing a bowling video game.
The games simulate situations for their players that require degrees of physical activity.
Elizabeth DiRico, an exercise physiologist who studied college students playing the games, said that the video games will not replace the benefits of non-simulated exercise.
She said that the new games would be a good way to transition an out-of-shape individual into a more active lifestyle.
Usually playing video games might be a sedentary activity, but the newest generation of games requires people to get up and move about.
As part of their study, researchers went to a retirement home and asked the residents to play the Wii bowling game.
The game simulates bowling by making players aim their shots at a line of pins on the screen.
Playing the game caused the heart rates of people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s to go up by 40%.
Study co-author Lucas A. Willoughby said that many of the participants enjoyed the bowling game.
He said that the findings showed researchers that the older adults felt more enthusiastic and rejuvenated, and in better psychological shape than when they started.
He said that some of the participants ended up encouraging their friends to play in tournaments.
People playing the game hold a controller device as if it were a bowling ball, so that it requires less physical activity than real-life bowling.
Other physical activity when playing the game comes from the fact that players move around and get up from their chairs when their turns come.
DiRico and her fellow researchers also monitored the bodily responses of 13 college students playing one of three Wii games, including boxing, tennis and aerobics.
DiRico, who works for a fitness centre, said that the boxing game gave players the most exercise of the three.
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