The American Council on Exercise (ACE), a leading fitness authority and training organization, has released the results of a study that tested the effectiveness of Nintendo's exercise tool and balance trainer Wii Fit.
The study, conducted in cooperation with the University of Wisconsin La Crosse Exercise and Health Program, found that Wii Fit produced "underwhelming results," in terms of exercise intensity.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin tested the Free Run, Island Run, Free Step, Advanced Step, Super Hula Hoop and Rhythm Boxing portions of Wii Fit, which were determined to be the game's most aerobically challenging activities.
The Free Run and Island Run gameplay portions yielded the highest energy expenditures, with players burning an average of 165 calories after 30 minutes of play. Rhythm Boxing, Super Hula Hoop, Advanced Step, and Free Step produced average calorie burning rates of 114, 111, 108 and 99 calories, respectively.
Researchers found that in all cases, performing an actual exercise activity rather than Wii Fit's virtual approximation resulted in "significantly higher" caloric expenditure. The Rhythm Boxing activity, in particular, burned one-third of the calories expended per minute of traditional boxing.
"While we found that playing the Wii Fit burns twice as many calories as a sedentary video game," said ACE's chief science officer Cedric X. Bryant, "the outcome of the study suggests that Wii Sports, the Wii's suite of exergames that includes tennis, boxing, golf and bowling, is a better option and more capable of helping consumers meet minimum intensity guidelines for exercise."
ACE's Wii Fit study tested men and women between the ages of 20-24 years old, and was led by John Porcari, Ph.D.; Carl Foster, Ph.D.; and Alexa Carroll, M.S. Wii Fit's various balance exercises were not tested during ACE's research.