Determining intensity levels for selected Wii Fit activities in college aged individuals.

By Joshua D. Grieser
Master of Science in Exercise and Sports Studies thesis
May 2010

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Introduction: Physical activity is important to the proper growth, development, and overall health of an individual. Current physical activity trends show declines in activity level throughout aging. To counteract inactivity many physical activity interventions have been implemented in different age groups and yet very little change in activity level has been seen. The Nintendo Wii® offers a popular technological intervention tool with its movement oriented game play. The physiological costs and intensity of the Nintendo Wii Fit® game have not been thoroughly researched, yet the Wii is being used as a physical activity tool in many arenas.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the intensity level of playing selected Nintendo Wii Fit® games using indirect calorimetry. Using the intensity information, it was determined if playing Wii Fit® (an exercise themed game) on the Nintendo Wii® video game console is an adequate activity for meeting the ACSM moderate physical activity guidelines threshold. Participants: Twenty-five participants, 5 males and 20 females, aged 22 ± 2 years (M ± SD) with little previous Wii experience were recruited for this study.

Method: Participants randomly completed two different Wii Fit activity sessions with two difficulty levels within the strength, endurance, and yoga categories. A resting metabolic rate and exercise VO2were measured on each participant with a TrueMax 2400 metabolic cart. Oxygen consumption was then converted into metabolic equivalents to estimate activity intensity level. SPSS18.0 (Chicago, IL, USA) was use for statistical analysis.

Results: Results indicated that VO2 of the selected Wii Fit activities was significantly higher than resting 2 VO levels. For example, the least intense activity was the Yoga Warrior activity, which had a mean intensity of 2.30 ± 0.42 METs and was still significantly higher than resting 2 VO levels, t (24) = 15.5, p < .001. The calculated MET values ranged from 3.28 ± 0.71 METs to 3.43 ± 0.60 METs for the strength activities, and ranged from 4.98 ± 1.22 METs to 5.73 ± 1.36 METs for the aerobic Basic Run exercises, indicating that the intensity levels of these activities met or exceeded the ACSM moderate intensity threshold of 3 METs. In contrast, the yoga exercises were significantly lower (from 2.30 ± 0.42 METs to 2.6749 ± .48 METs) than the recommended 3 METs, t (24) = -3.347, p= .003 for moderate intensity physical activity. Finally, the results showed that the medium difficulty level aerobic exercises (5.73 ± 1.36 METs) had significantly higher MET values than the easy aerobic exercises (4.98 ± 1.22 METs), t (24) = 5.00, p < .001. Discussion: The findings of this study illustrate the potential of the Nintendo Wii Fit® game to be an adequate physical activity tool. Furthermore, these findings will allow for the further advancement of exercise themed video games to become satisfactory replacements for traditional physical activities in future interventions.

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