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Can Wii Sports Replace the Real Exercise?

March 29th, 2008 · 1 Comment ·
 
 

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The Wii (pronounced as as “we”), is the fifth home video game console released by Nintendo. The console is the direct successor to the Nintendo GameCube. Most Wii buyers will first check out features such as pictures, the online service, Excite Truck and The Legend of Zelda. But, you may want to try Wii Sports which is in Nintendo’s freebie gamepack.

Wii Sports has golf, baseball, boxing, tennis and bowling games. If you wonder how can this be possible, here is the way – the player faces the video screen and he then moves a handhold controller that senses three-dimensional movements. For example, in the tennis video game, the player makes the same arm movements as in the real game of tennis. Wii allows you to swing a virtual bat or a tennis racket by just waving a light-weight controller.

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Sometimes, thing can get out from hand. Early on, there were stories about people letting go of the game’s hand-held controllers sending the plastic devices flying into television sets and walls. Then, there were people got smacked in the face when the other player let go their Wii controllers from their wrist strap. While I think these accidents are possible, but I doubt they happen often.

The more critical issue is about the injury called Wii-itis.

Some people are too engrossed and play the games for many hours. Unlike in the real sport, physical strength and endurance are not limiting factors. This advantage may backfire in this case – causing intense pain in the shoulder or hand. Some having pains at the right triceps and right thigh muscles.

Some doctors have creatively called the injury caused by wii as “Wii-itis”. Yeah, I know. The name is weird. Wiitis is probably another latest ailment to develop from the video game era. Some of you may remember those days where our wrist and fingers were hurt due to the repeated button mashing with the popular arcade game.

Here are some of the funny pictures I found on the net that exaggerate the damage done by Wii…

Exercising one of the hands too much…

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Slashing your opponent

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Killing your opponent.

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Health Benefits of Wii (directly or indirectly)
Back to the serious topic, let’s look at Wii from a more positive perspective…

  • Though my friend does not have any real world golf experience, he loves the golf game in Wii Sports. He likes whacking that ball as hard as he can. The scenery is pretty in the golf game and it can be satisfying seeing that ball fly for major yardage. Who knows, he may try the real golf faster than he thought once he started learning the game through Wii. I am not saying virtual games will replace the real game totally. Any kind of tech-influenced activity, be it treadmill or even horse-riding machine (iGallop by OSIM), could have health benefits, but the trick is getting people to actually use the darn things. Since “exertainment” is by definition fun, Wii makes it far easier for folks to get hooked on it and reap the long-term benefits.

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  • Nintendo has also come out another controller called Wii Balance Board. It looks like Reebok Step or futuristic bathroom scales with dual sensors. These sensors will detect your weight and balance on each side as you exercises. It can also record your body mass index by storing graphs and charts to show your progress over time. Exercises which work with this cool board includes yoga, push up, soccer and others. With Wii controller and this wireless balance board, you can have full-body games.
  • wii-fit-balance-board-scale-lookalike.jpg

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    Even Britanny Murphy is crazy about it. Rumor said Jessica Alba has fallen into Wii too.

  • Furthermore, the International Sports Sciences Association, a teaching institution and certification agency for fitness trainers, conducted a study of video games in January 2007 and found that systems such as the Wii and exercise games such as Dance Dance Revolution can improve people’s fitness and encourage them to exercise. Obese individuals will find it fun to play and gain aerobic movement out of the games. Seniors may enjoy gentle movements of bowling and golfing too.
  • Imagine on one snowy cold gloomy days, when you have nothing much to do yet lazy to go to gym, instead of sleeping, you play Wii. Now, you see how a video game will make you move your body.

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Suggestions To Play Wii Safely and Healthily:

  1. You may have problem with getting too close to the TV screen when bowling. So, I suggest you to use a belt as a line on the floor to get everyone to stay behind the line. It works well for me and my friends with all of the Wii Sports games.
  2. Just like other real physical exercise, before playing Wii Sports, one should stretch upper body, neck and shoulder muscles can help reduce the risk of soreness or possible injury during gaming.
  3. If you read the user manuals, the Wii Sports games feature a pause that allows players to take a break between the games. Also, player warnings are incorporated into game manuals which advises, “WARNING — Repetitive Motion Injuries and Eyestrain. Playing video games can make your muscles, joints, skin or eyes hurt.” I know some hardcore player play the games for 5 straight hours. Take a break 10 to 15 minutes even if you think you do not need it. You should know your own limit. Stop playing the games when you feel pain in your arm.
  4. If you want to work out your entire body, try the boxing game (it is my favorite). You will swing both your arms and the boxing game gives your abs a good workout too.
  5. Last but not least, I agree that it may be fun to swing the Wiimote around like a maniac, but all of the games can actually be played perfectly adequately with small movements while sitting on the couch.

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Final Words:
Will the active gaming concept have the staying power required to keep lazy people moving? Be it Nintendo (Wii), Sony (PS3) or Microsoft (XBox) will have to stay on the cutting edge to keep these people interested. Otherwise, once the novelty wear off, they will be back on the couch.

Even if people do “exercise” using gadget like this, moderation is important. Wii is merely a more active form of playing video games and the company marketing team has taken advantage of it to position it as a healthy activity. In short, no virtual games will replace the fun and health benefits of the real sports.

If you are tempted to try Wii, get one to try if you are game for it!

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Category: Fitness Gadget/Equipment


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1 response so far ↓
  • sylvesteR // Apr 1, 2008 at 1:26 PM

    True, Wii can definitely help people burn off some calories, of course for those who rarely exercises, they should avail themselves a nintendo wii.

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