The new active Wii video games from Nintendo Co Ltd may be creating a healthier generation of couch potato, according to a new study presented on Monday.
Some of the Nintendo Wii sports games and activities included in the Wii fit series, both of which require video- game enthusiasts to get up off the couch, may increase energy expenditure as much as moderate intensity exercise without ever leaving the TV room, researchers said at the American Heart Association (AHA) scientific meeting in Orlando.
It's a very easy and fun way to start exercising, said Motohiko Miyachi, head of a physical activity program at the National Institute of Health and Nutrition in Tokyo, who led the study.
The Nintendo-funded study found that about one-third of the games and activities included in the Wii sports and Wii fit packages require an energy expenditure of 3.0 METs or above, which is considered to be moderate intensity exercise, according to AHA exercise guidelines.
METs are metabolic equivalent values -- a standard method of estimating energy expenditure, researchers said.
While this study does not prove health benefits of these games, Miyachi speculated that increased time spent playing them may contribute to prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
The most effective exercise in the study was the single-arm stand featured in the Wii fit, which came in at 5.6 METs -- just shy of vigorous activity defined as 6.0 or greater.
If that too closely resembles actual exercise for the calisthenically challenged, then the Wii sports boxing game is the way to go with an energy expenditure of 4.5 METs.
Both the Wii tennis and baseball games produced moderate intensity expenditures of 3.0 METs. But would-be golfers looking to get exercise are still going to have to walk the course as the video version produces only 2.0 METs.
Miyachi, who said he enjoys the Wii tennis and baseball games, hopes to measure the physical activity expended playing the new Wii resort games and called on other video game makers to develop more active entertainment.
Noting the growing obesity epidemic in the United States and Japan, Miyachi said some physical activity, even of the video variety, is better than none.
(Reporting by Bill Berkrot, editing by Maureen Bavdek)