The Nintendo Wii Fit is a craze designed to get families back in shape, but a study from the University of Mississippi indicates the console has little effect on family fitness.
Professor Scott Owens started the study in the Autumn 2008. He wanted to see if video games had the potential to help families get more physical and reduce obesity, which is becoming a problem in most western societies.
Eight families had the loan of a Nintendo Wii Fit for three months. Their physical activity was monitored during this time and for three months after the console was removed from their home.
Before the study began, the family’s fitness was assessed, by charting their physical activity over a 5-day period. Then, during the study, the family’s fitness was measured, including aerobic fitness, balance and body composition. Software on the game consoles used individual profiles to track how much each family member used the games and how much movement was involved in that use.
The conclusion of the study revealed that overall the Wii Fit had no real effect on the family’s fitness. This was mainly down to the use of the console. In the first 6 weeks it was used on average for 22 minutes per day but over the next 6 weeks this fell to 4 minutes per day, a drop of 82 percent. Such small usage is too little to have any significant effect on muscular fitness, flexibility, balance or body composition for families as a whole. However, the children in the family did show some improvement in aerobic fitness.