Monday, May 23, 2011

Wii Fit: Meaningful Statistics?

I recently started manually tracking and reporting here the two stats Wii Fit 'tests' on. BMI and Wii Fit Age. I like numbers and looking at trends and such but the question that needs to be asked is do these stats matter? What do they track and do I even care?

BMI is a measurement comparing weight to height. That is all. It doesn't care if the weight is coming from muscles or from stomach fat. I'm sure there's a point when you've got enough body fat that working out properly will lower your BMI but for me I'm pretty sure if I actually exercised enough the number would actually go up, not down. Playing DDR for 30 minutes to an hour 5 nights a week is starting to impact my leg muscles (at the very least they ache a lot) but it isn't touching the BMI and really I don't think it will. That's just going to build muscle mass. If I actually wanted to lose weight I'd need to look at what I'm eating, likely starting with the 2 cans of Coke I drink a day at work. I may well start doing that but until then tracking my BMI is just wasting the 10 minutes a day it's taking to get the Wii Fit set up and running.

Wii Fit Age, on the other hand, is absolutely worthless. I did some searching to try to find what exactly it measures but it seems Nintendo doesn't care to fill anyone in on the specifics. The claim is it takes into account real age, BMI, and the 2 'balance tests' it puts you through. Now, there are 5 different ones (blue box breaking, slider area targeting, standing on one foot, standing on two feet, and walking in place) and you get 2 seemingly at random each day. There's no way that I can find to actually practice most of them. So Wii Fit Age changes so much day to day because I'm very good at some of the tests and not so good at others. I don't even understand what the walking in place one wants me to do. I'm bad at it, and I simply don't know how to get better. Am I actually bad at walking normally and is this something I need to fix or I'll screw my back in the future? Or is it just that my simulation of walking by walking in place is bad? I don't know and I have no way of getting the machine to tell me. The slider test I do very well at because I cheat. There are patterns to the locations of the target zones so if I get lucky I can actually be set in the right spot before it even shows it to me allowing me to breeze through the time. Does that mean I deserve to be 'younger'?

In my search for a definition of Wii Fit Age I turned up a bunch of articles claiming that Wii Fit isn't even very good for you. With all the annoying pauses dealing with stupid menus and the lack of movement in most of the tests it actually burns barely twice as many calories as just playing a standard game like Final Fantasy II. It's substantially worse than Wii Sports or DDR. So, I think that experiment is over. I'm going to keep playing DDR and I may look into tracking what I eat to see what's up there but the Wii Fit is getting retired for now.

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