Wii Exercise and the Seniors Citizen
You are probably getting tired of hearing that you have to get off your duff and exercise more, but isn’t it encouraging knowing that games are being designed to make exercising fun? It wasn’t that many years ago that we were yelling at our kids to go outside and play instead of sitting in front of the television playing video games. Guess what? Video games aren’t just for kids any more.
The good news is that there is a new video game system that actually counts as exercise. An article in the AARP magazine (September/October 2007) by Jeffrey R. Young says that people 50 and over make up 25% of video gamers.
You can bowl, golf, box, and play tennis or baseball all in front of your television. Wow! That sounds impossible, doesn’t it? Nintendo’s Wii Sports, a video game, is popping up in retirement communities and senior centers, as well as in living rooms all over the county. People, according to an article called “Fit to a Wii” by Gina Roberts-Grey (Arthritis Today, July/August 2008), including some with arthritis or other joint issues, started playing for fun and then found that it was quite a workout too. You need to stand up and actually control the actions by swinging your arms (simulating a real tennis game, or bowling or golf. All of that swinging of the virtual golf club, tennis racket and bowling ball may actually have some cardiovascular benefits for older folks who can’t cut the real courts and links any more.
A more serious model called the Wii Fit is designed to give you a workout. Instead of the hand held controllers it comes with a pressure sensitive Balance Board that tests your balance as well as your body mass index. You can do strength training, aerobics, and yoga that will improve your range of motion, strength and overall fitness.
Follow the same precautions as any other fitness program; start slowly and modify any parts of the program that isn’t right for you. You don’t burn as many calories as when doing gym work or regular walking sessions but if you have been a couch potato this is a good place to start. The experience is fun. The soccer, for example is pure fun but the strength training program is hard. Suzanne Vranica for The Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2008 talks about the appeal of the system and tells why it can challenge everyone in the household.