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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Are You Wii-Fit to Run? I'm Not

I have this nagging suspicion that running in place in Wii Fit might actually be more strenuous than actual running around. Now, I disclose that I'm terrifically out of shape, but surely I should be able to run around for six minutes before collapsing in a fit of exhaustion more or less completely drenched!

I realize I'm not comparing apples to apples, but please entertain my conceit. Could it be that, while running in place, you actually run faster than you actually would in real life because there is no real reference to which to you may judge your pacing?

Perhaps "running" in place is actually closer to a brisk sprint speed in real life?

I may just be trying to moralize my fitness to be unfit, so feel free to call me out on this. But if you do, you had better be fit yourself, and I would ask that you join me for a two player Wii Fit run to prove yourself. Scared aren't ya?? ^_~


carrotstew said...

Ok, after having reading your FULL post, I still have to shoot down your theory. Yes, the rate of footfalls per minute might be greater running in place. But if you were to try to hold that same running-in-place pace while you're running forward, I guarantee you'd feel a lot more tired and find it more difficult to keep that pace for 6 minutes (because you're using more energy, different muscles, fighting wind resistance, extending/contracting your muscles more, etc). Be a human experiment and try it out and report back to me if you were able to keep up the pace with outdoor running. And if I face off with you in a Wii Fit run, you'd better face off with me in a "real world" race. :)

miles said...

Haha spoken like a true runner! Without hesitation or lost pride, I admit I cannot survive six minutes at even a slow sprint pace in the real world, which accounts for why I can barely survive the Wii world. And since I don't expect myself to survive the real world at Wii pace, thanks for making me feel better Carol! As for a real world sprint face off with you, I graciously refuse ^_^ Maybe RUN, but not sprint!

Dave C said...

Wii Fit is an asshole.

miles said...

Remember Dave, there is no such thing as being slightly overweight ^_~

Christopher Hansen said...

Its not more strenuous. It might get your heart-rate up there but actual running uses up more energy b/c you need to propel yourself forward yo. also, factor in the wind resistance son.

PS - I like reading your short postings better. Reading those long ones can tend to be a pretty strenuous activity...

miles said...

Perhaps what I'm trying to say is that the natural pacing of the Wii Fit is closer to sprinting than running, that's why I felt it was harder than actual running!

Yeah man, I want to write more short posts and mix in the long ones. Want to get better at strenuous reading? Go read the New York Review of Books regularly >_< Or ask Steve for tips heh

tww said...

Sorry Miles, no way is it more strenuous. =) Running in place like that, you're not expending energy pushing yourself forward, like you would be in real running. Think back to physics and forces! Carol's right, the same rate in real running will always be harder. Maybe if you were going really fast and picking up your knees a lot in the Wii-Fit, you would burn more calories than jogging much much more slowly, but that's about it, I think.

miles said...

Yeah I think the consensus is scientific, unanimous and rightly so: real running is a superior exercise. It's not that I thought otherwise, really I was just surprised by how tired Wii Fit made me. In the end, my conceit doesn't compare apples to apples. Were I asked to run (not briskly sprint!) for six minutes in real life, it would be much easier to discover that sustainable pace and stick to it. At least that's what I'd like to think heh, and at most the Wii Fit can be a stepping stone for idlers like me.

ajsplan said...

As far as being more or less completely drenched after Wii running, in the real world, you would experience much more evaporative cooling as you move through the surrounding air, than you could ever hope to experience running in place indoors (unless there's a fan blowing on you). That difference could contribute to the perception that Wii running is more strenuous, even if it isn't.

TheOtherSideofTheWall said...

Hrm... I run for fitness, not competition. (My best time on my almost daily 5 mile run is about 43 minutes.) I have also had orthopedic problems since I was 12 or 13. I'm not a doctor or sports authority by any means, but after being through enough sessions of PT for my knees (due to a congenital knee issue), and after 10+ years of running for fun, I sorta have a sense of how the human body works.

When you walk or run, there's a whole set of very precise motions that have developed over millenia as humans learned to walk upright. When you walk and run, you strike the ground with your heel, roll your foot to the ball of your foot, and push off. Your leg muscles and tendons and abdominal muscles all work to stabilize the motion. It is the "natural" motion, so from a kinesthetic standpoint, it is "easier" to run like nature intended than to jog in place. It's also alot gentler on your joints-- the rolling motion absorbs and dissipates the PSI of the impact of your foot slamming into the ground with all your body weight on it (plus more, since force = your body's mass x the acceleration of your body.) When you run in place, you cut out at least one of those key shock-absorbing motions. Either you run on your toes, sending all the shock lengthwise through your foot into your leg, or you slam down flat-footed, which isn't much better.

Running in place is an aerobic exercise, but it's unnatural and more stressful to your body. I don't believe that I could run in place at the same pace as I run on my treadmill for 43 minutes, at least not at first. I suppose if I built up to it over time, I could do it, muscularly-speaking. You can train yourself to do anything, but you can't train yourself out of the effects of gravity. The jarring impact on my body would probably shut me down long before my legs gave out.

I wouldn't even try running in place at sprint speeds for more than 2 minutes. The thought of it alone gives me a concussion.

As for the sweating thing, the more fit you get, the better you sweat. At first, you sweat merely from the exertion, but then as your body adapts to the stress of working out, you find that the sweating becomes more.. precise. Kicks in when you need it, shuts off when you don't, and stays steady to do its job of keeping you from frying your brain. It's pretty cool, actually.

Miles- I say that if you really want to get into fitness, save your pennies and buy yourself a nice, mid-range treadmill. Find a happy pace to jog, and jog for a while every-other day, or a few times a week. Mix that up with some Wii Fit fun, and you'll have a tight cross-training regimen that will get you results without blowing out your knees or fatiguing you to the point that exercise loses all its appeal.

And quit smoking.