Can you get fit with a games console?

13 May 2011


With the summer holiday season hurtling towards us, it’s probably no coincidence that Zumba Fitness sits on top of the UK all formats gaming charts.

Climb on board your Wii Fit Balance Board and let the fun begin

The thought of lounging on a beach somewhere with a spare tyre just won’t do for many of us, so we look for ways to get into shape.

Years ago this would have meant going out running, diving into the swimming pool or hitting the gym – now we have more choice. Dancing to the samba beat provided by a Nintendo Wii game certainly sounds more attractive to casual fitness fans.

But can fitness games be thought of as a useful fitness tool, or are they just an excuse to act silly in your living room?

Real exercise

Olympians and other serious athletes rely on traditional methods to get themselves into shape for competition, rather than playing video games. If it’s their method of choice, then hard yards on the road and not the Wii Fit balance board must be the way forward.

The idea of exercising in your living room in front of the television might be tempting, but it does tend to deprive you of fresh air.

Half the fun in exercising is getting out of the house and enjoying the local park on a jog, or heading down to your nearest swimming pool.

You also get the satisfaction of knowing that it was your willpower alone that got you out of the house and hopefully into shape.

Making fitness fun

The trouble with an ‘old school workout’ is that it can be mind-numbingly dull. Even with the best tunes rolling on your iPod, jogging round the block is a drag compared to jiving along with a Nintendo Wii controller strapped to your waist.

Starting an exercise regime on your own from scratch can be a bit daunting. How far am I meant to go? What if I have my hands on my knees after 10 minutes and feel silly in public?

There’s nothing like that to worry about with fitness games. Wii Fit, Zumba Fitness and similar games have beginner’s levels, so you can ease yourself into exercising. Even if your balance is dreadful and your fitness is poor, nobody’s watching when you flop back on the sofa.

But if you stick at it and improve then you get a tangible reward. Your Wii Fit age will drop and your samba moves will score higher on Zumba Fitness.

First for fitness?

Obviously fitness games will never replace traditional ways of exercising if you’re intent on getting into serious shape.

However, they are a great first step on the ladder for many people who like the idea of becoming more active, but just don’t know where to begin.

The idea of buying a game as the first step of getting fit is certainly a lot less intimidating than a pair of trainers and a sweat band.

So if you’re getting ready to hit sunnier climes this summer but want to drop a couple of pounds before getting into your swimming trunks, then maybe the fitness regime could start in front of your television.

Have you used fitness games to try and get into shape? Maybe you’re a believer in traditional methods? Comment below…