Videogames are often blamed for everything wrong with kids today -- but in most cases, they get a bum rap.
Believe it or not, videogames can be an enriching, engaging, and even productive way to pass the time -- and as I’ll tell you later in the week, some games might even slash the dementia risk in seniors.
But there’s one thing videogames can’t do. They can’t help you lose weight, and that includes games that require movement, like Nintendo’s Wii Fit.
In a new study, 84 overweight kids were randomly assigned to either a Nintendo Wii with Wii Fit games that require active play -- like sports and dancing -- or a Nintendo Wii with a more traditional game that can be played in the usual couch potato position.
The kids also wore accelerometers to measure total daily activity, which 13 weeks later revealed virtually no difference at all between the two groups, according to the study in Pediatrics.
The kids who played Wii Fit got between 25 and 28 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day, while the kids who played less active games got between 26 and 29 minutes a day -- both a far cry from the hour or so kids should spend engaged in active play each day.
The researchers say they’re not sure if the movements of Wii Fit were so minimal that the accelerometers didn’t pick them up, or if the kids balanced out their Wii Fit sessions by spending less time engaged in other forms of physical activity.
Either way, the results speak for themselves: No one’s getting fit off Wii Fit.
Surprised? Don’t be -- one of the company’s own studies found that many Wii Fit games don’t even reach the levels of exercise achieved by ordinary walking.
Another study found that 10 minutes of Wii Fit burned just 25 calories -- less than cleaning or vacuuming, and a fraction of what you can burn in 10 minutes of running on a treadmill.
That’s not to say you need to slave away in a gym -- or even on a treadmill -- to lose weight and stay fit.
But you do need to get out and get moving, whether it’s a brisk walk through the local park, a daily "workout" in your garden or a regular tennis habit.
And by that, I mean "real" tennis... not the one in Wii Sports.