Xbox 360 Kinect vs Gym Workouts

Xbox 360 Kinect vs Gym Workouts

It's been 12 weeks now, and to be completely honest we are not overwhelmed by the health benefits of exercise via video games. Recently, we were a bit surprised at how "out of shape," we felt when doing some biking and it got us thinking that perhaps this is not quite the gym replacement that we had hoped for.

Granted, everyone's mileage will be different, but so far 12 weeks later we are kind of feeling like we don't quite have the results that we were seeking when we began this quest. Part of us wonders if the tool itself is the issue or if the problem is that we were just not using it "hard enough," ie if we did more of the boring strenuous fitness-ey games we would probably feel more like we feel when we finish a workout at the gym.

Curious if we were alone in not feeling like we have worked out as hard as we would have in a gym, we took a look at the data. According to one study, discovered via Reuters, by Southeastern Louisiana University, similar exercise benefits from a video game only happen when the fitness game is played at intermediate and higher levels. In this study they looked at Wii Fit and how playing the game impacted the health of a group of women. One particularly interesting piece of data they found is that when the Wii Fit hula and step games were played at an intermediate level, the exercise benefits were similar to walking at a brisk pace of 3.5 miles per hour during which 5 calories were shed per minute.

However, another study funded by the American Council on Exercise found the benefits of video game exercise when compared to similar activities done in a gym to be more than a bit lacking. In this study 16 volunteers between the ages of 20 and 24 played Wii Fit, 6 minutes of 6 six activities on separate days. The study found that the Wii Fit Free Step, Advanced Step Aerobics and Free Run, activities burned an average of 3.3, 3.6 and 5.5 calories per minute, while similar activities in a gym, according to LiveStrong, burn 7.6, 10.6, and 12.1 calories per minute.

Our takeaway from these two studies is that working out with a video game is not going to have the same health benefits as working out in a gym, but if you push hard with the video game it can come close and it is most definitely better than no exercise at all.

One thing that is for sure is that in a typical week we definitely use the Kinect more than we visit the gym so we do think that says something. The other important thing we must remember when comparing the benefits is that we pretty much loathe the gym and for the most part breaking a sweat via the Kinect is something we enjoy. Where does this leave us? Well since the data suggests that in order to get a similar benefit working out a home via a video game as we would in a gym we will need to push ourselves more. With that in mind we will continue our quest to get healthier via the Kinect and will keep putting those fitness games through the Test Lab (because we really like playing video games and really dislike going to the gym) while using our bike as our primary mode of transportation.

What do you think? Do you feel like you get as good of a workout at home with an active video game as you do in the gym?

Weeks 1-11 with the Xbox 360 and Kinect:

(Images: Joelle Alcaidinho and Flickr members Keith Davenport, Aaron Webb, and Hotel Casavelas licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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