Friday, February 02, 2007

Time: "Is the Wii Really Good for Your Health?"

Time magazine recently posted an excellent article on videogame fitness, focusing mainly on the Wii but also bringing in a variety of related articles and scientific findings on using videogames as exercise or rehabilitative therapy.
Not only have some gamers started turning the Wii and other similar active gaming consoles into a new form of exercise, but medical researchers are touting their health potential for more than just weight loss. A research team at the University of Toronto is developing a "therapeutic video game" to treat children who suffer from hemiplegic cerebral palsy, a condition that can partially paralyze one side of the body. If the children regularly use their weaker side, their motor function can improve. The problem is getting the children to do so outside of therapy sessions. Active video games might do the trick, thought William Li, an undergraduate engineering student at the University of Toronto who is conducting research at the university's Bloorview Kids Rehab teaching hospital.


But weight loss is still probably the biggest health benefit the Wii will have for users. Active video games like the Wii can fight child obesity, according to a report published by the Mayo Clinic in the January issue of Pediatrics. In that study, researchers found that children burned three times as many calories playing "active" video games versus playing traditional hand-held video games. Because the study was done before the Wii debuted, researchers tested Sony's EyeToy and Microsoft's Xbox. But Lorraine Lanningham-Foster, the report's lead researcher, expects the Wii to have the same effect. "If children are up moving around versus sitting down, then they're going to burn more calories," she says.
Also, our previously-mentioned Mickey DeLorenzo has signed a deal on a book tentatively titled The Wii Workout. Read the whole thing.

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