Friday, June 4, 2010

Physiological Response of a Gaming Session with the Nintendo Wii Fit (Exergame) Interactive Video Game

Author(s): Kaia E. Pirazzini, Raymond M. Kraus. Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, IL. (Sponsor: Robert C Hickner, FACSM) Email: 

Abstract: Persons engaged in a regimen of regular physical activity have been shown to obtain numerous health benefits. The Nintendo Wii Fit video game is the first interactive video game explicitly marketed as a fitness tool, yet no research to date has assessed the level of exercise intensity attained while playing. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to assess the average exercise intensity achieved throughout a 30 minute Wii Fit gaming session, and to compare these results to ACSM recommendations. 

METHODS: Young, healthy participants (mean ± sd: men, n = 11, 21± 1.8 yrs; women, n = 10, 21.7 ± 2.0 yrs) with BMIs of < 27 completed the study. Ventilation (VE), volume of oxygen consumed (VO2), and volume of carbon dioxide produced (VCO2) were monitored along with heart rate (HR) during a maximal exercise treadmill test. On a separate visit, participants completed a standardized Wii Fit session where VE, VO2, VCO2, and HR were continuously monitored. 

RESULTS: Throughout the Wii Fit session mean values for all variables monitored were generated using exclusively the active time participants were engaged with the game. Participants were actively engaged in Wii Fit play for a mean time of 31.7 ± 2.3 minutes. Mean play time HR was 117.7 ± 18.8 bpm, and when these data were analyzed relative to each participant’s maximum HR (HRmax) a mean of 59.6 ± 0.1% was observed. Mean play time VO2 and METs were 15.7 ± 3.1 mL/kg/min and 4.5 ± 0.9, respectively. As calculated from each participant, the mean play time VO2 expressed as a percentage of VO2R was 28.4 ± 0.1%. Compared to the men, women attained significantly higher values for the following gaming session variables: %VO2 max, %VO2R , HR, and %HRmax. For all participants, average energy expenditure was 199.4 ± 59.4 kcals.

CONCLUSION: According to ACSM, moderate intensity exercise is defined as the attainment of any of the following: 40-59% of VO2R, 64-76% of HRmax, or 3-6 METs. The present study found that the mean METs maintained throughout Wii Fit play were consistent with moderate intensity exercise as recommended by ACSM; however, the mean percentage of VO2R and HRmax did not reach the threshold specified by ACSM. This provides limited evidence to suggest that the Nintendo Wii Fit video game may be an effective exercise tool. 

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