Is the Wii Fit free run activity a feasible mode of exercise for regular exercisers: a comparison with treadmill running.

The aim of this study was to compare the metabolic responses between treadmill running and the Free Run on the Nintendo Wii when maintaining a constant pace with an aim to see whether this would be a feasible option for exercise in persons who already exercise. Twenty eight university students, mean age 20.7 ± 1.38 years, participated in a repeated measures study. Subjects completed 10 minutes running on the treadmill at a self selected pace followed by 10 minutes of Free Run on the Nintendo Wii Fit disc. A metronome regulated the running pace during the Free Run activity to match the running pace on the treadmill. Oxygen consumption, caloric expenditure and heart rate were measured with a Cardiocoach Metabolic Cart. Paired t-tests compared the percentage of age predicted maximal oxygen consumption (% VO2max), metabolic equivalents (METs), caloric expenditure and percentage of estimated maximal heart rate (% HRmax) between the two running situations.  For all variables of interest the mean values for treadmill running was found to be significantly higher than those for the Wii Free Run (P < 0.001). The mean %HRmax and METs categorized both activities as vigorous intensity, however, the Free Run was at the lower end of the ranges whilst treadmill running was at the upper. The mean %VO2max classified treadmill running as vigorous intensity and Wii Free Run as moderate.

The authors conclude that the Wii Free Run activity can be used as an additional form of exercise for persons who are already engaged in physical activity but should not be considered a replacement for treadmill running by those who run.