A little fun on the Wii Fit goes a long way for patients with Type 2 diabetes


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It’s always been known that a good diet and exercise are the keys to a healthy body. Though modern life can get pretty hectic, there’s no doubt that it has also given us increased options for getting a workout. These choices aren’t limited to stopping by the gym after work, either. Regular sessions with your Wii Fit can get your heart and limbs pumping and help you shrink your waistline.

In addition to promoting weight loss, new studies suggest that playing the Wii Fit can help control blood sugar levels in those suffering from Type 2 diabetes. The authors of a German study advise that half an hour every day for 12 weeks can help reduce fasting blood glucose, weight and body mass index. Additionally, the researchers found that “diabetes-dependent impairment, mental health, subjective well-being and quality of life also improved significantly, and the number of patients with depression decreased.”

This corresponds with another study by Harvard Medical School published in PLoS Medicine, which suggests that aerobic exercise, muscle-strengthening and toning activities can “substantially” reduce the chances of developing diabetes for middle-aged and older women.

If you’re not quite ready to pump iron, though, the Wii Fit certainly sounds like a more fun place to start. The very nature of playing the console game makes it a more inviting prospect. After all, psychologically speaking, you’re not hitting a punishing schedule at the gym — you’re just “playing” the Wii, right? In fact, many of those involved in the study reported that they involved family members in their use of the Wii — this interaction certainly might explain the reduction in depression.

It’s fair to say that further research might be necessary before drawing firm conclusions about such studies. The German group, after all, only involved 220 people, and the fact that the Harvard participants were all of “European descent” might suggest a wider group of volunteers is needed. 

It’s fairly clear, though, that — as with diets — enjoying your workout will improve its effectiveness. After all, you’re more likely to stick to a routine when it doesn’t feel, well, routine.

The researchers say that the “fun” aspect of the Wii “was able to motivate [Type 2] patients to improve physical activity, glucometabolic control and quality of life.” 

And who’s not up for a little more fun?