Getting the Most from Game-Based Workouts

Studio 5 Health & Fitness Contributor Melanie Douglass shares how to get the most out of your game-based workout.

Gaming systems have come a long way! The technology that used to tie us to the couch and the television, now require we get up and move along. Here is a breakdown of two of the most popular gaming systems and some tips to help increase the intensity and results of your workout!

GAME: Wii Fit

COST: $90.00


The Wii Fit has one amazing feature that sets it apart from other gaming workouts: the “Center of Balance” interactive sensors. If you think you’ve mastered doing a basic lunge or squat, you haven’t really felt the true intensity (or reached your full potential) until you workout with a tool that monitors center of balance—from start to finish. The Wii Fit sensors make you realize just how hard you have to push… and totally awesome.

The Wii Fit offers:

– Strength training exercises: body weight exercises like lunges, squats, planks, etc.

– Aerobics exercises: basic stepping, walking, running

– Yoga: basic poses

– Balance games: fun 1-2 minute activities like tightrope walking, ski jumping, soccer head butts

– Tracking, progression charts, goal tracking

One of the drawbacks on the Wii Fit is that it doesn’t “sequence” all these exercises into a complete workout. So you are never quite sure how many sets or reps to do for each activity.

In order to get the best possible workout on the Wii Fit, I recommend:

1) PATIENCE. Take your time on the first few workouts… you won’t sweat a lot because the game will stop and go while it shows you how to properly perform the exercises. Once you learn the exercises, your workouts will become smoother and you’ll sweat and burn more calories.

2) STRUCTURE. Start with an “Aerobics” activity (like stepping or running) and repeat that activity 5 – 10 times (should create ~10 – 20 minute cardio section). Then pick 5 strength exercises to perform (should take ~5 -15 minutes). And lastly, pick 1 – 2 balance games to help you build core strength and stability. This structure should provide a good 30 – 45 minute total body workout.

3) ADD SOME MUSIC. The Wii Fit music is not upbeat enough to help you really push. Playing music or using an iPod helps you work at a faster pace (works best with walk, run, step, and strength exercises).

4) FOCUS ON YOUR CENTER OF BALANCE. If you watch those sensors and follow the prompts to push harder or cross a certain line, you’ll get a much more efficient workout.


COST: $60.00


This game-based fitness product was just released May 19, 2009 – it’s brand new! It runs on the Nintendo Wii and is capable of one- or two-person play. This product is interactive, customizable, and designed to be a “personal trainer in a box”.

EA SPORTS Active offers:

– Cardio track (walk, run, high steps, kick ups)

– Tennis

– Cardio Boxing

– Cardio Dancing
– Volleyball

– Inline Skating

– Baseball

– Strength training exercises (using body weight or resistance band *included)

– Calorie-burn tracking

– Workout & goal tracking with calendar

– Interactive coaching to teach proper form

– Workouts designed by Bob Greene

In order to get the best possible workout with EA SPORTS Active, I recommend:

1) TAKE THE 30-DAY CHALLENGE! It kicks off today, June 1st! The 30-day challenge is just a pre-designed circuit workout program that samples most of the activities available—it’s a great way to see all that the system can do, to find out what activities you enjoy, and to experience how the circuits adjust to your fitness level, and track your calories, intensity and progress.

2) TRY BUILDING YOUR OWN WORKOUT. After you’ve tried a few pre-designed workouts, try building one of your own… keep it simple though, it’s best to do fewer activities for longer durations of time so you can steer clear of the whole stop-and-go effect.

3) COMPETE. I love the 2-person competitions on this workout platform. Nothing is better to zap some life into your workouts than a little old-fashioned competition. You’ll work harder, you’ll become stronger and faster, and time will fly.

4) WATCH THE TRAINER… CLOSELY. This program has a trainer window that shows you how to perform the exercises… and it’s a stickler on form. If you aren’t holding the Wii remote & nunchuk in just the right way, the trainer just sits and waits, and waits, and waits until you correct your form. It took me a while to figure out that my trainer had my holding a bentover row position forever because I had my remotes pointing forward and not down. It’s a great feature, just be aware!

Melanie Douglass is a registered dietitian, a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) certified personal trainer, and an AFAA certified group fitness instructor. She graduated with Honors from Utah State University and holds a degree in Nutrition and Food Science. Melanie is the author of two best-selling books: Losing it! 5 Keys to Successful Weight Loss that Work and Tip-a-Day Guide for Healthy Living (Deseret Book). As the “Health and Fitness” Contributor for Studio 5, Melanie delights in conjuring up practical ways to eat better, exercise effectively, and improve overall health.

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