Some Nintendo Wii Games Endorsed by American Heart Association

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The American Heart Association (AHA) wants to step into your living room and encourage you to get active with selected Nintendo Wii games. The endorsement by the AHA of the Wii active-play video games is an attempt to address the fact that nearly 70 percent of Americans do not get enough exercise.

According to the AHA website on its association with Nintendo of America Inc., two common reasons people give for not exercising are a lack of time and that exercising is not fun. Playing Wii active video games may at least take care of the “fun” part.

Nintendo’s active Wii games, including the Wii Fit™ Plus and Wii Sports Resort™ software, are the items targeted by the AHA, and not any of the Nintendo Wii games that are sedentary.

In an AHA news release on May 18, the Association explained that in forming this alliance with Nintendo, “AHA reaches an important new audience, those currently playing video games, with a message that encourages people to choose the more physically active versions of these games.” The release went on to note that the AHA needs “to meet people ‘where they are’.” Increasingly, where people “are” is in front of a computer or TV screen.

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The AHA noted that their message “is one of incremental change: if you’re doing nothing, do something; if you’re doing something, do a bit more.” The Association would like to see a 20 percent improvement in the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 2020. To help with this goal, the AHA says it “must be bold to be successful,” and teaming up with Nintendo is part of that game plan.

Nintendo’s Wii video games have come under scrutiny in recent months. A study from the University of Mississippi questioned the impact on fitness for people who played the games. Use of Wii active games has also been associated with injuries. One woman even claimed that she sustained nerve damage resulting in persistent sexual arousal syndrome after falling off a Wii balance board.

On the positive side, Wii sports games have been shown to help reduce depression in older adults, and to also help recovering stroke patients.

The alliance between Nintendo and its active Wii games and the American Heart Association is a sign of the times. While an epidemiologist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention interviewed by “Good Morning America” noted that “the amount of activity that one gains from these active gaming devices is inconclusive in terms of its benefits on health,” some activity is still better than none. If the AHA and Nintendo Wii games can get more Americans up off the couch, then that’s probably a good thing.

SOURCES:
American Heart Association news release, May 18, 2010
American Heart Association website

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