What is Wii fit?
It is a scale-like, pressure-sensitive device that you stand on and that can measure not only the weight of the player, but also the weight distribution between the two feet, and the front and back of each foot. It keeps track of the weight of a player over time, and calculates the body mass index (BMI). It is possible to name a certain fitness goal, i.e. a certain amount of weight loss over a certain time period. Wii fit is also able to display fitness tips, and can keep track of activities that were performed outside of the Wii fit play like e.g. walking or playing football.
Body tests performed optionally before the play can give a self check of body fitness based on balance and lower body strength. Wii fit games belong to one of four categories: yoga poses, strength exercises, aerobics, and balance games. Exercises in each category last from 1-5 min.
The Wii fit keeps track not only of the weight and BMI of the player, but also of the amount of time spent and the results, giving points based on the performance in the games. When the player reaches a certain performance level, or spent a certain amount of time playing, new games and more challenging versions of the old games will be unlocked. After each game, the high score list of up to ten is displayed, and how the current results compare to the high scores.
Body fitness with Wii fit: Pros
Wii fit is a fun way to exercise and can be a way for the entire family to enjoy exercising together. Everything is centered on balance, when using Wii fit. This idea is that people who do not have an even weight distribution between their left and right leg, compensate for this in a way that misaligns the posture with increased risks for back and joint problems down the road. The Wii fit balance board constantly keeps taps on weight distribution and thus provides a way to improve the posture. Wii fit also keeps track of your weight, so it’s not easy anymore to be in denial about that. And that’s a good place to start, if you want to increase you body fitness.
The games are fun and surprisingly challenging. The aerobics games include a fun run through the park, step aerobics, and a boxing session among others. Balance games include heading virtual soccer balls, ski jumping, ski slalom and others. The playful aerobic and balance games can be a great way to get into the habit of exercising regularly and increasing body fitness with Wii fit.
The high score lists can create additional incentives as they encourage the attempt to outperform previous results. They can also add an element of competition to the family play that will work especially well for older children and teenagers. There are plenty of different choices that make exercising a game rather than a chore, which might be a great way for people who are new to the concept of regular exercise and body fitness.
The yoga and muscle strength exercises increase body strength and flexibility and also give a nice feeling of accomplishment through the scores you can achieve and the way you realize your progress when you can suddenly do exercises that were impossible when you started.
Body fitness with Wii fit: Cons
The Wii fit starts with a weigh-in from which it calculates the BMI and a fitness test which is based on balance from which it calculates a “fit age”. It does not explain the science behind either score, or some of the problems associated with them.
The Wii fit program has a vast variety of different exercises. While this can be an advantage, as it keeps the player engaged in ever new activities, it does not provide a plan to structure the exercise program in a way that maximizes the workout. Since it is entirely up to the player to choose which exercise to use, it is easy to cheat by e.g. only to play the games that come easy to the specific player instead of striving to improve performance by practicing the harder games. Since Wii fit does not provide a means to develop a structured exercise program, it is not easy for beginners to pick exercises that, when combined, would provide a whole body workout without prior knowledge about exercising which might be a significant hurdle to body fitness with Wii fit as compared to the traditional way in the gym with a personal trainer.
Using just a very limited set of exercise games on a daily basis can overwork certain body areas like e.g. the knees and cause joint pain and repetition damage (similar to the ability of Wii sports to cause carpal tunnel syndrome).
All games range in length between 1 and 5 min after which the menu comes back up from which to choose to either repeat the current exercise or to pick a new one. This can make it hard to keep a constant elevated heart beat which is the goal for many cardiovascular exercise programs. This, together with the fact that most games are better in increasing muscle tone than maximizing cardiovascular exercise can be obstacle on your way to body fitness with Wii fit, if your main goal is weight loss rather than flexibility, balance and muscle tone.
The yoga and muscle strength exercises are set in a gym that lacks visual stimulation and the virtual personal trainer lack personality. Both of these features together can contribute to a dreary experience with these parts of the game and most likely prevent people who are new to exercising from using these games.
The balance board is only able to work with players of up to 330lbs weight which will prevent the heavier people from using it as a fun way to increase their body fitness.