Wii Fit U intensity and enjoyment in adults
BMC Research Notes
Wii Fit U intensity and enjoyment in adults
Background: The Wii Fit series (Nintendo Inc., Japan) provides active video games (AVGs) to help adults to maintain a sufficient level of daily physical activity (PA). The second generation of home AVG consoles is now emerging with new game modalities (including a portable mini screen in the case of the new Wii U). The present study was performed to investigate the intensity and enjoyment of Wii Fit U games among adults. Findings: Metabolic equivalent (METs, i.e., intensity) of the Wii Fit U activities were evaluated using metabolic chambers in 16 sedentary adults (8 women and 8 men). A short version of the physical activity enjoyment scale was completed for each activity. Wii Fit U activities were distributed over a range from 2.2 ± 0.4 METs (Hula dance) to 4.7 ± 1.2 (Hip-hop dance). Seven activities were classified as light-intensity PA (<3 METs) and 11 activities as moderate-intensity PA (3 - 6 METs). The new portable mini screen game modality does not induce higher METs. Men exercised at higher intensities than women. There was no correlation between enjoyment and MET values in women or men. Conclusions: More and more moderate-intensity activities are available through video gaming, but the average intensity (3.2 ± 0.6) is still low. Users should be aware that AVGs alone cannot fulfill the recommendations for PA, and the video games industry still must innovate further to enhance gaming intensity and make the tool more attractive to health and fitness professionals.
Active video game; Exergame; Wii Fit; Indirect calorimetry; Metabolic chamber; Enjoyment; Physical activity
Home-based active video games (AVGs) have been
presented in recent years as a potential leisure physical
activity (PA) [
]. Several single-session studies classified
AVGs as light-to-moderate PA [
], which may not be
sufficient to reach current recommendations for daily
moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) [
Although intervention studies have failed to increase the
total amounts of PA in children and adolescents [
there have been reports of beneficial effects of AVGs
with regard to body composition outcomes, especially
in the adult population [
]. As there is no consensus
regarding the use of AVGs as a means to increase daily
PA, and because the video game industry is still
developing rapidly, data on AVG intensity and enjoyment
must be frequently updated to help health and fitness
professionals to include AVGs in exercise rehabilitation
The popular Wii Fit series (Nintendo Inc., Japan)
provides AVGs designed to help adults to maintain a
sufficient level of daily PA. While the second generation of
home AVG consoles is now emerging, the new Wii U
system includes an independent portable monitor allowing
a 360° motion game modality that may increase player
movement, upper limb activation, and subsequent energy
expenditure (EE). The present study was performed to
investigate the intensity of each new Wii Fit U activity in
adults. A standardized protocol using metabolic chambers
(i.e., similar to that used for testing the activities in the
previous Wii Fit series [
]) was used to facilitate data
interpretation and comparison. Heart rate and enjoyment
data are also provided.
Sixteen Japanese men (n = 8) and women (n = 8) aged
between 30 and 45 years old participated in this study.
According to Nintendo commercials and packaging materials,
sedentary young and middle age adults have indeed been
identified as the main target audience for the Wii Fit series.
The subjects did not report any exercise habits (here
defined as at least 30 min of structured physical exercise twice
per week during the previous year), and are consequently
referred as sedentary elsewhere in this manuscript. Subjects
had limited experience with Wii Fit (no experience with the
tested activities) and were therefore considered as
beginners. No training sessions were scheduled before the
experimental day. Subjects did not report any chronic
The standardized metabolic chamber protocol was
described in detail elsewhere [
]. Briefly, subjects performed
the 18 new activities of Wii Fit U at the beginner level. Each
activity was continued for 8 min to obtain steady-state EE.
Two open-circuit indirect metabolic chambers (15000 or
20000 L) were used to measure the metabolic equivalents
for each activity (METs) as an index of intensity. Chambers
were equipped with a TV, a video game console, a table,
and a chair. Temperature was controlled at 25°C and
relative humidity was set at 55%. The oxygen and carbon
dioxide concentrations of the air supply and exhaust were
measured by mass spectrometry (ARCO-1000A-CH; Arco
System, Japan). The flow rate exhausted from the chamber
was measured by pneumotachography (FLB1; Arco
System, Japan). The oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide
production were determined from the flow rate of
exhausted air and the concentrations of the inlet and
outlet air of the chamber. Data were recorded every 12 s. EE
was determined using Weir’s equation [
]. Finally, MET
values were calculated from resting EE and steady-state
EE during each Wii Fit U activity. Heart rate (HR) was
monitored throughout the protocol (BIOVIEW1000A
PB1811; NEC Medical Systems, Japan).
Finally, a short version of the physical activity enjoyment
scale (sPACES) was completed after each activity. Five
items from the original 18-item test were chosen. The
same items had been used previously by Graves et al.
(2010) in a similar protocol [
]. Each item is presented as
a 7-point Likert-type scale. The responses for the 5 items
were summed to give a score ranging from 5 to 35, and
the percentage enjoyment score was then calculated [
Statistical analysis was conducted at three levels:
1) For each activity: For intensity and enjoyment, the
differences between activities and sexes were tested
by two-way ANOVA with 18 repeated measures.
2) For each activity category: In accordance with the
manufacturer’s label, activities were classified into
three categories (Figure 1): balance activities vs. dance
activities vs. aerobics activities. The differences between
these three categories were investigated by one-way
ANOVA. The Student–Newman–Keuls test was used
for post hoc analysis.
3) For each game modality: Activities were assigned to
one of the following modalities (2 modalities, see
asterisk in Figure 1): new portable mini screen vs.
other traditional Wii Fit game modalities (Wii remote
and/or Wii balance board). The difference between
the two modalities was tested by unpaired t test.
In addition, the correlations between intensity and
enjoyment scores were investigated for women and men by
the Pearson correlation test. METs values and enjoyment
scores are shown in Figure 1 as means ± SD. Significance
is shown as P < 0.05 or P < 0.001.
The protocol was approved by the Ethics Committee
of the National Institute of Health and Nutrition and
subjects gave their informed consent.
The baseline characteristics of subjects are presented in
the Table 1.
According to the repeated measures test, intensities
were significantly different between activities (P < 0.001).
As indicated in Figure 1, the new Wii Fit U activities were
distributed over a range from 2.2 ± 0.4 (Hula dance) to
4.7 ± 1.2 (Hip-hop dance) METs. Seven activities were
classified as light-intensity PA (<3 METs) and 11 activities
as moderate-intensity PA (3 – 6 METs). No activity was
considered as vigorous PA (>6 METs). The average
intensity was significantly higher in men than in women
(3.5 ± 0.8 vs. 3.0 ± 0.5 METs, respectively, P < 0.001;
overall average: 3.2 ± 0.6). HR varied from 86 ± 14 bpm
(Hula dance) to 109 ± 16 bpm (Hip-hop dance).
Dancing activities (3.5 ± 0.5 METs) were significantly
more intense than balance (3.0 ± 0.2 METs, P < 0.05)
or aerobic activities (3.0 ± 0.3 METs, P < 0.05). Finally,
the activities with the new portable mini screen game
modality were significantly less intense than those with
the Wii remote or Wii balance board only (2.8 ± 0.5 vs.
3.4 ± 0.7 METs, respectively, P < 0.001). These activities
were rated as light-intensity PA (see asterisk in Figure 1).
Enjoyment scores were found to be relatively
homogenous between activities, with the enjoyment
scale varying from 55% ± 21% to 74% ± 13%. There were
no significant differences between activities or sexes. Finally,
no relations were found between intensity and enjoyment
in women (R = –0.01) or men (R = –0.07).
The new Wii Fit U game provides an extension of slightly
higher intensity activities (2.2 ± 0.4 to 4.7 ± 1.2 METs,
mean: 3.2 ± 0.6 METs) in comparison with activities
included in the previous Wii Fit + (1.3 ± 0.4 to 5.6 ± 1.1
METs, mean: 2.5 ± 1.0 METs, see [
]). While the new
portable mini screen did not result in higher intensity
activity in the present study (mean: 2.8 ± 0.5 METs), more
MVPAs are still available through activities that use the
traditional Wii game modalities (i.e., the Wii balance
board and/or Wii remote). Surprisingly, the dance
activities were found to be more intense than the aerobic
activities (3.5 ± 0.5 vs. 3.0 ± 0.3 METs, respectively).
One reason is that most of the dances included in the
Wii Fit U package are actually practiced as dance aerobic
exercises. Another reason is that the experiment was
performed in beginner mode, which could have significantly
lowered the intensity of the activities, including aerobics
activities. These observations emphasize the necessity for
health and fitness professionals not to rely on the
manufacturer’s labeling, as the terminology does not necessarily
reflect the effective intensities of the activities and may be
Attempting to increase PA in adults is a huge challenge
that requires multifaceted strategies, and the present
results may support the inclusion of AVGs in such
strategies. In the present study, adult men expended
more energy than women playing the same video game.
However, this result cannot be explained by a difference in
enjoyment as there was no difference in sPACES score
between the sexes. Finally, no relation was found between
enjoyment and intensity, which could be a critical point to
maintain subject adherence over longer periods. Both the
scientific field (via longitudinal studies) and the video
game industry should address this important issue.
Significant proportions of Wii Fit U activities are still
rated as light-intensity PA (7 of the 18 new Wii Fit U
activities tested; 53 of 86 overall, see [
]). While these
activities cannot be relied upon to fulfill current
recommendations for PA (that should be MVPAs) [
], they may
still be valuable to break sedentary times, or for seniors
who would have greater benefits from light-intensity PA
compared to their younger counterparts [
further studies specifically designed to address these
points are required.
Limitations and strengths
In the present study, all of the participants were invited
to play at the beginner level, which may have lowered
the game intensities. Indeed, Worley et al. [
that playing Wii Fit games at an intermediate level
significantly increased players’ EE. Another limitation is that the
whole study was conducted in single-player mode.
Multiplayer modes, which may better reflect some real-life
situations, have indeed been found to be more intense
]. However, the use of the single-player mode allows
a fairly objective evaluation of each game intensity,
providing important information to the players and health and
fitness professionals who wish to select AVGs for their
usage. On the other hand, in real-life situations, adult
players are invited to play games with their relatives and
at intermediate to expert levels to have greater benefits
from their AVG sessions. Finally, the relative small sample
size, population age, and characteristics (i.e., inexperienced),
as well as the 8-min format chosen for each activity, may
prevent generalization of our results. However, one strength
of the present study was the use of the same standardized
protocol as described previously [
study-tostudy comparisons, thus providing information about
the evolution of Wii Fit series intensity.
While the new Wii Fit U tends toward more
moderateto-vigorous physical activity, the average intensity is still
low (3.2 ± 0.6 METs). Users (including both players and
health and fitness professionals) should be aware that
active video games cannot be relied upon to entirely fulfill
the recommendations for physical activity. Consequently,
recommendations for sedentary people to engage in
exercise should only be made for some selected games and
must be considered as only one tool in a wider multifaceted
strategy. On the other hand, innovative game modalities
allowing more vigorous exertion could be developed to
break the light-intensity physical
activity/moderate-to-vigorous physical activity barrier more significantly and make
these games more attractive for the purposes of health
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
JT, HM, ST, and MM participated in the design of the study. JT, TA, and SH
collected metabolic chamber data. HM, RK, and NT managed subject
recruitment and experimental visits, and participated in other data
acquisition. JT and TA processed raw data. JT and HM completed data
analysis. JT, HM, and MM discussed the results. JT wrote the article. HM, ST,
and MM reviewed and approved the manuscript. All authors read and
approved the final manuscript.
The authors are grateful to the subjects for their participation in the study.
Julien Tripette is supported by Fonds de Recherche du Québec – Santé and
the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science. The study was partially
funded by Nintendo Inc., Japan. Nintendo staff did not participate in the
design, interpretation, or discussion of the results of the study. The authors
therefore declare no competing or financial interests.
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