PURPOSE: To examine the effects of home based physical activity using Nintendo’s® Wii FitTM active videogame on health outcomes in middle-aged women.
METHODS: 15 overweight sedentary women (43.2±5.9 yr, <1 hr intentional physical activity/wk for 6 months, body fat 37.5±7.6%) played Wii FitTM in their homes for 10 weeks (Wii, 4 sessions/week, 30 “Wii min”/session: total >20 hrs, < 20 hrs excluded). Game play included equal minutes of yoga, aerobics, strength and balance game activities. 9 women preceded Wii FitTM training with 10 weeks of habitual sedentary activity (Con). All participants underwent pre-test physical assessments that included: body weight (pre: 72.0±11.7 kg), BMI (pre: 25.8±3.5), body fat %, flexibility (sit-and-reach, pre: 35.0±7.5 cm), postural sway in the anterior/posterior plane (PS, deviation of the COP from the BOS y-axis during 20s of quiet tandem standing with eyes open, pre: -2.66±1.54), submaximal cardiovascular (CV) fitness and submaximal muscular strength. Physical assessments were repeated at the end of each 10 week phase. Differences between scores (post-pre,Δ) were compared between groups (Wii vs. Con) using two-sample t-tests.
RESULTS: No differences were found between groups (Wii vs. Con, p>0.05) for Δbody weight (-0.03±0.95 vs. 0.15±1.6 kg), ΔBMI (0.021±0.45 vs. -0.06±0.56), Δbody fat% (-0.45±1.17 vs. -0.16±0.96%), or Δflexibility (2.9±5.1 vs. -1.2±6.1 cm, p=0.06). Small improvements were seen in ΔCV fitness (increased workload at same submaximal heart rate, Wii > Con, p=0.02), Δbench press repetitions (2.2±2.4 Wii vs. 0.44±2.06 Con, p=0.05) and Δhamstring curl repetitions (2.4±2.0 Wii vs. 0.38±1.41 Con, p=0.01). The most significant difference between groups was found in postural sway. Following Wii training PS was reduced by 1.12±1.16 along the y-axis compared to an increase of 0.64±1.33 following Con (p=0.007).
CONCLUSION: 10 weeks (>20 hr) of Wii FitTM use in previously sedentary overweight middle-aged women had no effect on body wt or composition compared to control. Small improvements were seen in CV fitness and muscular strength. Postural sway was reduced in the forward/backward direction. Further research is necessary to determine whether commercially available active videogames can provide improvements in health in this population.