Survey: Wii Fit Doesn't Actually Get Families To Exercise Or Lose Weight

Nintendo has always marketed their Wii console as the one to get if you're looking to get up off of the sofa and start moving. Indeed, many have been inclined to move about somewhat with the wildly popular Wii Sports title that Nintendo (smartly) includes in the bundle, but if you're looking for so much movement that you'll shed a few pounds, you may be looking in the wrong direction. A not-so-shiny research report from the halls of Ole Miss found that the Wii Fit title--a game that lets users select a workout regimen and then do those exercises by interacting with the Wii controller and Wii Balance Board--doesn't actually encourage families to exercise nearly as much as previously expected.

In fact, the study found that "the console has little effect on family fitness." The research was conducted by Scott Owens, an associate professor of health and exercise science at the university. He started the research in the fall of 2008, looking to see if Wii Fit could help families get into the habit of exercising. Naturally, the study was done with the rising level of obesity in mind, with a six-month look at eight families giving him the data he needed to draw his conclusions.

The findings? Well, his elaborate record keeping saw that kids did in fact display "significant increases in aerobic fitness after three months with the Wii Fit," but three months of Wii Fit use "produced no significant changes in daily physical activity, muscular fitness, flexibility, balance or body composition for families as a whole." So much for exchanging your gym membership for a video game, huh?

Furthermore, his research found that "daily Wii Fit use per household declined by 82 percent, from 22 minute per day during the first six weeks to four minutes per day during the second six weeks, leading Owens to conclude that the Wii Fit had little impact on daily fitness and that that “modest amounts of daily Wii Fit use may have provided insufficient stimulus for fitness changes." The university seems pretty confident in the findings, and based on what we've seen in families that own the title, we agree. It's a hot and novel toy at first, but it doesn't take long to grow old. And regardless of the difficulty setting, nothing we've seen can really make the user burn a great deal of calories. Time to bust (back) out the weights, we guess.