Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Perfect Holiday Gift for Wobbly Old People

Last year, I wrote that Nintendo's Wii Fit video game system won't do jack shit for most people's fitness. That remains true; after all, "only 22 of the 68 active video games tested resulted in moderately intense exercise, similar to brisk walking." (And as Mr. T has taught us, speed walkers are a disgrace to the man race, so "exercising" with the Wii Fit is almost certainly held in even lower esteem by B.A. Baracus.)

On the other hand, the New York Times points out that the Wii Fit is awesome for the AARP set.

A representative case study published last year found that an 89-year-old woman with a balance disorder and a history of falls significantly improved her scores on a series of balance tests after six sessions of Wii Bowling, an encouraging outcome given that, as the study authors point out, falls remain the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the elderly.
According to another study, older Wii Fit players "improved their balance scores significantly, lowering their supposed “Wii age” (a score assigned by the game system, based primarily on balance tests) by about eight years" while younger players "improved by only about one year."

Lesson: Don't let your kids con you into thinking that a Wii Fit can substitute for actual exercise -- but you might want to consider stuffing one under the tree for their grandparents.