Healthwii Gaming

Nintendo’s conscious efforts to combine and promote fun and fitness for all ages is truly impressive. “Fun” is one of those boring, overused words, but I can’t help that I find the word synonymous with Nintendo and its games. If you looked up “fun” in my thesaurus, you’d find Nintendo listed first. Nintendo is trying to show us that fitness can be fun, and with their Wii console, suddenly it’s not so hard to imagine.

I am not the only one who is buzzing about the fitness possibilities that the Wii provides. WiiLoss.com refers to the Wii as “the unconscious diet” and MetroWii.com has an article about “Wiixercises” and refers to the British Chiropractic Association’s suggested warm up and cool down exercises to perform before and after Wii’ing, (Ha! Wii’ing! See what I did there?), complete with details for ensuring you’re getting a proper stretch.

Most importantly, the Wii gets people off the couch and makes physical activity enjoyable. Nintendo has a game slated for 2007 called the Wii Health Pack that I’ve been hearing snippets about and trying to find more information on. Speculations are that it will be a fitness “game” that will provide exercises you do while holding the Wiimote(s), and due to the Wii’s fantastic motion sensory abilities, will accurately be able to track whether you’re doing the exercises properly (and prompt you accordingly), and monitor things like heart rate and calories burned. It’s rumored that this will be somehow related to a Japanese title called Family Health Check, also TBA. The GameSpot link for the Wii Health Pack is bare now, but hopefully will start getting updates soon and contain more details as the game is further developed and closer to completion.

The Wii may not be the fitness revolution that is going to completely change your life and your body shape, but it’s better than no physical activity at all and just sitting on the couch, and when combined with other regular exercise and good nutrition, is definitely more pro-health than any other successful console to date. What I like about the Wii is that you get out of it what you put into it. The Wii’s capability to detect 3D motion flawlessly really opens up the realm of possibility in terms of fitness. If you’re consciously putting that kind of effort into your game, you’ll physically get back the positive effects of a workout. If you’d prefer to sit or just stand there and flick your wrist, you’ll physically get back … well, nothing really. But that’s the point. If you’re looking to make a workout from your Wii session, you’ll find it’s not that hard to accomplish. When I play the Wii and am putting in the effort, I walk away feeling good and motivated to be healthier. That’s something I can’t say about any other console. Now couple that good feeling and motivation with a load of fun games, and I’m sold.

Now I’m no fitness guru and I don’t pretend to be in perfect physical shape nor perfectly fit. I do, however, like finding ways to combine things I enjoy, such as physical activity and gaming. I (jokingly) explored the fitness possibilities in the wildly popular MMORPG PC game, World of Warcraft, which gained Blizzard’s front page attention this past summer and is forever listed on their community site page. While my WoW fitness article was (mostly) meant to be more humorous instead of serious, the opportunities for affecting your health positively by using the Wii is actually no joke.

I do Taebo fairly religiously three times a week. For those who don’t know what Taebo is, it’s an aerobic workout program that employs kickboxing techniques, which means a lot of punching and kicking. When I play Wii boxing, I walk away exhausted much like I do after a 30 minute Taebo session, though there’s something different in the equation. When I’m doing my Taebo DVD, I’m just following along with Billy Blanks. When I’m playing Wii boxing, I am fighting against an opponent boxer, who typically is higher in skill than I. It’s no longer just a simple follow the leader activity, but instead a competition, which motivates me a little differently than Taebo. It’s also incredibly satisfying and exhilarating to triumph over my opponent, which keeps me coming back for more. While Wii boxing will not be replacing my Taebo program, it sure does supplement it well.

Is the Wii magically going to slim you down 20 pounds, give you flat abs and be the end all be all that causes you to be physically fit? Most definitely not… I may be optimistic, but I’m also realistic. The Wii is not a full body workout program, but that’s not its goal. Can it aid in your physical fitness regiment and motivate those who previously may not be getting any physical activity at all? It sure can! It’s getting people up off their butts and getting their heart rates going, (which is key), and for some, is the first crucial step. By opening up the potential of targeting personal fitness motivated by enjoyably engaging game play, the Wii is single-handedly (and successfully) creating a stepping stone towards better overall health, one exciting game at a time.

If you couldn’t tell, I love my Wii. For my review of the console, check out the previous blog entry here or check it out on my gaming website, www.pinktoque.com.

Hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday – for pics of our family’s Christmas, check out our gallery under Misc -> Christmas 2006. Happy New Year!