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When you play Wii Tennis, it's difficult to not swing the wireless controller with the same ferocity that you would on the courts. Many a player has experienced the resulting pain of the "Wii elbow" or the flying Wii remote that smashes into walls. In fact, it isn't too difficult to work up a sweat with the Nintendo Wii, especially if you're playing tennis or boxing. So what if you replaced your gym membership with a Wii? Would you see results?
Computer programmer Mickey DeLorenzo did. DeLorenzo put himself on a Wii fitness regimen for six weeks in December 2006, dubbing it the "Wii Sports Experiment." Tracking his results online, DeLorenzo reported that he lost 9 pounds (4 kilograms) and 3 inches from his waist just by integrating a half hour of Wii activity every day -- no dieting or additional exercise included. During these workouts, DeLorenzo emphasizes that he swung or punched, depending on the game, as hard as possible to maximize his results. According to his calculations using a calorie measurement tool made by BioTrainer, he burned:
- 125 calories in 15 minutes of Boxing
- 92 calories in 15 minutes of Tennis
- 77 calories in 15 minutes of Bowling[source: Wiinintendo.net]
A small study of 13 children conducted by a professor at Liverpool John Moores University in Britain in February 2007 found that participants burn about 150 calories per hour playing Wii [source: BBC]. Although this calorie count is lower than DeLorenzo's, it may be attributable to DeLorenzo's conscious effort to amplify his moves. Nevertheless, the study also highlighted that with an average weekly playing time of 12.2 hours, children could burn a maximum of 1,830 extra calories per week.
Given these results, the upcoming Wii Fit game, set for a U.S. release on May 19, 2008, holds promise for people hoping to shed pounds through "exergaming." The Wii Fit uses a balance board that measures players' weight and body mass index, and the Wii controller has a suite of games that focus on aerobics, yoga, balance and muscle conditioning. To learn more about the Wii Fit, read How the Wii Works.
Is exergaming the wave of the future? Will people soon trade in their boring treadmills for Wii consoles? Let's evaluate how the Wii stands up to other active video games and -- gasp -- real exercise.