Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Wii Fitness - A Primer

I've just posted on Eurogamer, because the new Wii Fitness is going to result in lots of people misunderstanding how exercise works and arguing whether the new Wii Fitness acts as a weight loss device. I'll going to go all off-topic on here for a second. As always, this does not consistute any kind of professional advice. Please seek medical advice before starting any kind of fitness training program.

Here's my posts:

@pac, lambtron, other people who don't know how exercise and weight lose work

"Gentle exercise for a long duration is always > short burts of intense activity."

"Not sure about that. I think the only way to loose weight effectively is a good diet and regular cardiovascular exercise."

Actually, you're both wrong. The amount of calories burnt during exercise is dwarfed by your body's post exercise consumption of calories (EPOC). This is elevated more by intense exercise, and even more by modifying your body's metabolic rate by increasing your lean muscle mass. Increasing your lean muscule mass by 1 kg is approximately equal to doing an additional 30 minutes cardiovascular exercise every day for free. So body building ~= sprinting > jogging > gentle walking for weight loss. Of course, jogging is still good for cardio vascular (aerobic) fitness. There's also the additional benefits of skeletal insulin uptake that occurs with intense exercise.

And in response to a follow-up post:

"My point was that Wii fit will not make you fit, or loose weight."

Actually there's a good chance that it will. The first 3 months of body building don't actually result in any muscle mass gains, simply because you are incapable of coordinating your body well enough to work the muscles hard enough.

Instead, the rapid strength gains you experience at the start of adopting a weight training program are the result of increased neuro-muscular coordination. The same kinds of neuro-muscular coordination that the Wii Fitness uses.

The initial weight loss you experience as a part of training is partly the result of 're-activating' under-used muscle groups, and using them more, which results in a higher metabolic rate. For instance, many people find it really hard to activate their rhomboids (muscle group in the middle of the back) without being conscious of them. Once they've done a few weeks worth of back training, these muscles can be activated more easily and correctly used.

I think you'll find that these initial gains will also be present for people who use the Wii Fitness.

@lambtron: You can usually increase your lean muscle mass about 1 kg per year, so agreed that it requires a lot of dedication. I disagree with you that it shouldn't be a realistic target. I think a year of regular of regular resistance training (3 times per week) is a realistic target for most people to be able to achieve. Of course, once they get on 'the path', they're unlikely to want to stop after a year. If the Wii Fitness gets them 3 months into it, then more power to Nintendo.

Btw: While I'm all for weight training, if you think us as a games community is a sad and pathetic bunch of individuals, try meeting some of the hard core gym junkies out there. High prevalence of depression, teenage acne, social misadjustment, anger issues, short-man syndrome etc that makes gamers look like paragons of the community
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1 comment:

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