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Does anyone have an sources on this? I love the idea of playing video games to lose weight, just not sure how effective it is. At the end of my exercises it tells me your burned x calories, but not really sure how reliable the numbers are.

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No wii is not a complete substitute or even a partial one for regular cardio and gym. However it is an excellent motivational aid. The single most useful feature of wii fit, is the weight record and charting it conveniently links. It is not a replacement for going on a 4 km run. Having said that some of the android and iPhone apps are good as interactive training. –  Anonymous Type Mar 20 '11 at 5:36
    
I've a Wii with a Dancemat. 30 minutes on Novice level, and I'm sweating hard. I am overweight, but I hope over the next few months I'll monitor my weight and see how much I lose. –  TeaDrinkingGeek Mar 20 '11 at 19:32
    
The answer can be yes or no. Buying a gym membership won't help you lose weight unless you actually go and use it. These are tools that can aid in losing weight, and combining them with the interactivity of video games can make fitness more helpful, fun, and motivational. I don't think you should be too quick to judge the numbers for their reliability. If they're flawed that's another issue. Health and fitness don't happen overnight, and not every person is the same either. It takes time and investment to achieve the results you want. –  Matt Chan Mar 25 '11 at 12:57
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3 Answers 3

up vote 22 down vote accepted

My girl friend and I used Your Shape (Xbox360 with Kinect) and in her case the calories indicated by the game were actually too low compared to what her Polar was indicating. Now by no means is this scientific or calibrated, but at least it means they're a nice estimate.

I'd say there's three things that are important:

  • Does the game make you keep coming back? Because in the end any diet is based on sticking to it, so if the workouts are fun and keep you motivated, that's a plus.

  • Does it make you workout regularly? Not only do you have to keep working out, you have to do it at least ~three times to be a little bit effective. Especially if you want to get better at something, you have to regularly stress your body and let it recover, so you become more fit.

  • Does it make you workout longer? Your body needs about 30 minutes to get your fat-burning going, so if you worked out for 15 minutes and then quit, well then you only burned the sugar you shouldn't be eating ;-) If you can find a workout that keeps you busy for 30-60 minutes, then it's becoming really effective. Note that you may include warming up and cooling down, as long as it keeps you moving!

And off course Kronos is absolutely right: if you eat more than you burn during the workouts, you don't loose anything... But! as your fitness improves, so will your metabolism, so it's OK-ish to eat a little bit more, but then you have to promise me that you'll do an extra two sets of Wii Tennis!

This image shows different games and their metabolic equivalent task (MET):

enter image description here

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Great answer, thanks for that. Interesting to see the results from her Polar - nice way to measure this actually. Maybe it's about time I got a heart rate monitor as well! Cheers. –  Ciaocibai Mar 1 '11 at 21:16
    
I can definitely recommend one @IntuitionHQ, be sure to check if you can use it together with a smartphone or computer, because it makes analyzing your results all the more fun! –  Ivo Flipse Mar 1 '11 at 21:20
    
I'd like to see Just Dance or Sing Star Dance. I've never put much faith in DDR. –  Daniel C. Sobral Mar 20 '11 at 19:47
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Perhaps I can get @Jeff Atwood to sponsor all the games, so we can put it to the test ;-) –  Ivo Flipse Mar 20 '11 at 20:25
    
Where did your graph come from? I'd love to read the study. –  daxelrod Nov 3 '12 at 21:32
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YES! but with a caveat: as with any other diet or workout plan, you have to stick to it. My sister-in-law everyday would workout using the Wii Fit. This included walking/running around the house for a half hour each day, doing yoga stretches, etc. Combined with a diet, she lost close to 26lbs in the course of a year. She still, to this day, wakes up early and works out using the Wii.

enter image description here

Sorry this is such a terrible picture, my cell phone was all that I could use at the time.

Her workout consisted of on average a 30 to 45 mins of aerobic workouts, and may have included others, such as stretches, or strength building exercises. Her main 'game' she used was Wii fit Plus, but now uses EA sports Active and says that it is better.

A man going by the name of DeLorenzo has also claimed to have lost weight using the Wii:

Six weeks ago (December 3rd, 2006), I began what has become a huge obsession of mine. It is called the “Wii Sports Experiment” I outlined a 6 week game plan for myself, the idea being that I would continue. ALL normal activity and eating habits, and simply add 30 minutes of Wii Sports to my day. For the past month and a half, I’ve stuck to these guidelines very strictly.

Weight: For most people this is their most anticipated category. To be honest, I was genuinely surprised by my end results, so I’ll just get right to it. I lost 9lbs!

Here are a few links of other's success stories.

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Thanks for that image, and the links. Quite inspirational - I guess my graph over a couple of weeks is OK then. Cheers! –  Ciaocibai Mar 7 '11 at 1:37
    
Nice edit @Kronos :-) –  Ivo Flipse Mar 7 '11 at 8:05
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You don't necessarily lose weight because you burn more calories, even if you do so consistently. Using more calories will make your body demand more calories as well, i.e. you will be hungrier. So unless you control intake somehow, it will probably not have any effect at all on your weight.

The same goes for higher metabolism from more muscle as well, it's not sure that that will make your net calorie balance change.

The only way of being sure you lose weight is to control the number of calories you eat and adapt them to your expenditure. If you don't want to do that, and you typically don't, if you aren't a professional athlete or make it a big part of your life, you have to change how you eat and what you eat.

Hunger is not the only factor that determines calorie intake, appetite and habit are other ones. If you always have access to calorie-dense food, you will eat more because it will reward you more. On the other hand, if you have a habit of eating home cooked food, if you buy groceries when you're not hungry, and so on, you will eat what you have, because laziness and habit are more powerful than gluttony ;)

There is also some evidence that fructose changes your hunger levels.

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