A Wii Workout: When Videogames Hurt

Wii_1The Wall Street Journal (subscription not needed) has an interesting article out today describing the aches and pains of Wii players. For those who might have been hibernating this Fall, the Wii is the latest gaming console from Nintendo that was released just two days after Sony’s PlayStation 3.

The Wii does not try to compete on a technical level (i.e. game graphics, etc.). Instead, Nintendo is hoping to convert non-gamers with “intuitive game play.” The controller it comes with is a wireless, motion-sensitive wand-like device that gamers wave around in the air perhaps as a sword, gun, steering wheel, tennis racket, or whatever a particular game calls for. But apparently, this type of game play amounts to some fairly intense exertion. Reports are coming in of aching backs, sore shoulders, and something now called “Wii elbow.”

Here’s what people are saying:

“It’s harder than playing basketball,” says Kaitlin Franke, a 12-year-old from Louisville, Kentucky. She’s mostly into the bowling and boxing games, which require some practice of specific motions and fancy footwork.

In Rochester, Minnesota, Jeremy Scherer and his wife spent three hours playing tennis and bowling Wii games. Jeremy mentions his score improvements at the expense of his shoulders and back that were still aching the next day. “I was using muscles I hadn’t used in a while.” Jeremy is a computer programmer who calls himself as “not very active,” but is now on the nightly “Wii workout” plan to get in better shape.

Blaine Stuart of Rochester, New York, mistakenly whacked his fiancĂ©e, Shelly Haefele, while playing tennis and also accidentally hit his dog while bowling despite the message Nintendo flashes up on the screen before each game which says: “Make sure there are no people or objects around you that you might bump into while playing.”

Ryan Mercer, a customs broker in Indianapolis, lifts weights several times a week. But that hasn’t helped much with the Wii. After playing the boxing game for an hour and a half, his arms, shoulders and torso were aching. “I was soaking wet with sweat, head to toe — I had to go take a shower,” he says. And the next morning? “I had trouble putting my shirt on,” says the 21-year-old avid gamer.

What are doctors saying? Nothing new, really. “Stretch out and be sure to take care of any injuries afterwards.” Lana Kang, an orthopedic hand surgeon, explains, “It’s just like athletic play.”

Kudos to Nintendo for combining gaming and exercise. Now if they could just make it so that eating a Snickers is the same thing as having a piece of fruit, we’d be set…

*Update 2* Now see the results and analysis for the first 300 votes of the Americans vs. Non-Americans Wii Workout Poll.

*Update* If you own a Nintendo Wii, how much of a work out is it for you? Take the poll! Also, the Wall Street Journal contacted me to let me know that this article is now available as part of its “Today’s Free Features (link above updated).

  • Pingback: Anonymous()

  • The reason it hurts is because you are a lazy American.

  • Skinny American

    More like because they are lazy in general. I have a Wii and no related injuries. However, I also don’t weigh 300 pounds.

  • exercise man

    funny that the fat people are complaining about using the wii.

  • Bob
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  • Fry

    It’s called “Nintendo Arm” not wii elbow

  • fatass

    no it’s called “wii too fat”

  • Josh

    Wow, you kids are complete retards. Way to be stereotypical or discrimitive. Please, do us all a favor and just slit your wrists, you pieces of trash.

  • NoidZu

    …Way to be stereotypical or discrimitive. Then STOP CRYING about it!


  • For one thing the games don’t actually require the erratic movements that many people demonstrate while playing them, a simple twitch of the controller will suffice. Similar to the wrist strap issues this can be solved by simply not being an idiot while you play the games. There is no need to swing the controller with a lot of force.

    I’ve been playing the Wii for 8 days now and I’m not feeling sore from it. I have scoliosis and I haven’t experienced any additional back pain from playing the console.

    This seems like a combination of lazy people and fan boys wanting to put Nintendo down.

  • Bob


    I’m not so sure it’s all negative press. Many fan boys are quite happy with the way a good work out is part of playing games.

  • Blah

    Maybe they’re not playing it right.
    I believe it doesn’t take full body motion to use the Wii controllers. Just a few little jerks work as well. So if people really want to be competitive, they would learn the most efficient way to play which is not making yourself sweat like a pig with overacted motions. (But then again, this “efficiency” is what makes some hardcore gamers a little obese.

    Most worthless comment made by: NoidZu

  • I just wanted to say I’m not saying that it hurt me, I see the Wii as a GOOD thing. I did a video interview with Forbes that you can see over at http://www.forbes.com/video/?video=fvn/business/ms_wii120106

    -Ryan Mercer

  • Bob Caswell

    Good luck with the workout, Ryan. Keep us posted.

  • Hey!

    Ok I got really excited abotu working out with a Wii. And I also wanted to see what and how other people are doing with their Wii”s and if they are working out too! SO, I created a site so that we can all post and share our wii Workouts! The site is free!


    Check it out!

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