Being a personal trainer, I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have been asked about Nintendo’s Wii Fit.

  • Is it a good workout?
  • Will it help me lose fat?

My answers:

  • It depends
  • Probably not

What is Wii Fit?

For those readers without children, the Wii Fit is a video game developed by Nintendo for the Wii console. The Wii Fit is unique in that it uses the Wii controller and the Wii Balance Board to enable the user to play a variety of “exercise” games.

In an attempt to market this product as a quasi health device, the Wii Fit calculates your BMI and after a few balance and reaction tests, assigns you a Wii Fit Age. The goal of the Wii Fit is that by exercising with the Wii Fit, you will be able to lower your BMI and Wii Fit Age.

Is the Wii Fit a good workout?

As I mentioned above, it depends. If you are even moderately physically fit, the Wii Fit is a waste of time.

In an article published in the National Post, the Wii Fit was tested in the exercise physiology lab at McGill University. Researcher Tania Taivassalo put the Wii Fit through it’s paces to see what sort of workout you can get with it.

The researchers tested the Wii Fit running game and the hula hoop game.

“According to Jean-Philippe Marchand, a kinesiology master’s student who tested the product in the lab, both the running and hula hoop game required the testers to work out at the equivalent of 60% of maximum aerobic power for children. These results classify the games as light physical activity with the potential to improve fitness among those new to exercise, but with little potential to do the same among the fit population”

Even worse than the low level of intensity was the fact that both games offer only short bursts of activity (under five minutes).

Low intensity plus short duration does not equal Olympic marathon champion.

The researchers’ final word on the Wii Fit: “It is definitely meant for sedentary people or for kids to have fun while exercising — as opposed to sitting and moving their thumbs only.” So, if you, or someone you love is a video game junkie and really, really, really needs to get in shape, the Wii Fit may be a good place to start.

It’s not too intense for a beginner, and it addresses most of the aspects of physical fitness:

Will it help me lose fat?

Without changing your eating habits, it is very unlikely that you will lose much body fat with your Wii Fit workout.  Sorry.

So, should I buy the Wii Fit?

Unless you are very desperate, I would hold off on buying the Wii Fit. While it is incredibly popular right now, I have a strong feeling that in a few months, there will be quite a few gently used Wii Fits being offered for sale on Ebay.

2015 Update

Wii Fit is now Wii Fit U and is available on Amazon for around $50.