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Fitness Testing Newsletter: Using the Nintendo game console Wii

Hi and welcome to the March 2009 fitness testing newsletter. The last few newsletters have been few and far between as I have been traveling with my family. If you are interested in where we are, you can read my travel blog (www.thistravellife.com).

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This newsletter is about the steps you should consider when preparing your subjects for fitness testing.

The Wii game console

One of the latest crazes is the Nintendo Wii console, and in particular the fitness and sports component the Wii Fit program, a series of 48 fitness training-related games and activities using the Wii Balance Board accessory™ on which you stand or otherwise interact with. It is the technological home fitness system.

In particular interest to the exercise scientist is the Wii Fit `Body Test' series of tests. This is a short and simple set of activities used to measure selected body parameters. The tests utilize the Wii Balance Board to measure the center of balance, Body Mass Index (BMI), and body control. Based on these results, it determines the person's Wii Fit Age. The measurements can be repeated and the progress followed over time.

Here are more details about each component

Balance

The Body Test begins simply by checking the person's center of balance. After stepping onto the Wii Balance Board accessory™ with feet spread equally apart, Wii Fit checks balance between the left and right side of the body, and also forwards and back, and displays at what point your center of balance is relative to your feet placement.

BMI

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is determined in Wii Fit by the standard formula comparing weight and height. The height details are entered earlier. It even asks for variables such as the weight of the clothing worn, so Wii Fit can provide a more accurate measurement.

Body Control

Wii Fit measures body control by using two randomly selected balance tests. The tests are performed by following the simple on-screen instructions

Wii Fit Age

The Wii Fit Age, an estimation on your biological age, is calculated based on the balance-test results, taking into consideration the actual age.

Summary

These are only very basic fitness tests, limited by the capabilities of the equipment. Basic anthropometrical measurements and balance is only measured. Other fitness parameters such as strength, power, speed, and endurance are missing, and therefore the application of this unit for fitness testing is very limited. It is possible to envisage a step up test and strength training tests being incorporated, such as a beep test like push up test. Hopefully such tests will be added at a later date to make this a more useful tool.

Fitness Training

If you are not happy with the Body Test results, there are numerous exercises that can be performed that are designed to get you fitter – such as step aerobics, balance exercises, yoga and strength training exercises. You follow spoken directions and on screen, instructing you to step on and off the white box. Feedback from the unit can be used to monitor your results.

It is not all good news. There are reports of the medical condition Wii-itis, a repetitive strain injury from overuse. However, using Wii Fit is definitely better than regular computer games. It would be better, though, to actually turn it off and get outside and do the traditional exercises. You will get some fresh air too.


Need More Info?

For details about conducting the Body Mass Index (BMI) test:http://www.topendsports.com/testing/tests/BMI.htm
This article has been published at: http://www.topendsports.com/testing/equipment-wii.htm


About this Newsletter

Fitness testing news and latest information, including notification of updates to the ultimate source of all fitness testing information - 'Rob's Home of Fitness Testing'. Topics covered include methods for measuring body fat, shuttle run beep test issues, strength and power testing and much more.

Thank you for your ongoing support of my site.

Rob Wood

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