With the popularity of computer consoles such as the Wii Fit many people now use computer games as a way of working out. But are these computer games really able to help us work up a sweat? The Wii Fit has been the forerunner in this style of active gaming and is actually a fairly simple looking step which you perform most exercises upon or next to. You can create a profile by adding your height and weight, but don't get offended by the picture it creates of you - this will correlate to your BMI.
Many of the exercises are based upon balance and focus therefore around developing and strengthening your core muscles. Whilst this is great for balance, coordination etc it does very little to really improve your cardiovascular fitness. Whilst you can use the board for basic step ups, hula hoop and running on the spot, these low level aerobic exercises may do little to enhance your fitness.
However, other activities that involve hand held motion controllers such as tennis can burn about 5 calories a minute making it a reasonably good aerobic activity. The Wii boxing in particular is a far more cardio-intense activity that can really increase the heart rate and improve fitness, especially if practised regularly over time. Increasing the level of difficulty will also help improve your fitness as you can add an element of progression. However, compared to real tennis or real boxing, the calorie burn has shown to be around 30% less when using the games console compared to the real thing.
Evidence shows that using computer video games as a form of fitness can be moderately successful but like most activities, consistency is key. Most owners of the Wii Fit and other exercise based games, actually confess that they use it very rarely. With the basic government guidelines stating we need 30 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise a day, it seems we may need to all do more than just occasionally playing computer games. Exercise experts recommend fresh air and variety when performing exercise and unfortunaetly most games are very routine and encourage us to stay indoors!. However, as games developers expand their software building capabilities maybe there may be potential for us to all use computer games as part of a rounded fitness routine in the future.