Can Nintendo Wii Fit really get you into shape?

A new study shows that Nintendo's popular Wii Fit program could improve your aerobic health.

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Nintendo aficionados have long argued that a couple hours of bowling on the Wii is just as good as a jog around the neighborhood or a friendly game of pick-up soccer. And now they've got an official scientific study to back up their claims.

According to Motohiko Miyachi, head of physical activity at the National Institute of Health and Nutrition in Tokyo, some of the games on the Nintendo Wii provide the same level of exercise as their fresh-air counterparts.

Miyachi put particular emphasis on the aerobic workout provided by Nintendo boxing and tennis games – one-armed work-outs that can often leave users happily breathless. Equally good are some of the strength exercises provided by the new Nintendo Wii Fit Plus game, the study suggested. (Wii Fit Plus review in video below.)

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How about yoga? Also beneficial. While noting that the yoga and stretching routines available on Wii Fit Plus are less aerobically intense than, say, Wii Tennis, these drills do help improve flexibility, Miyachi noted.

Of course, you can take all of this with a grain of salt – Nintendo funded the study. Ahem. Maybe they're hoping a little publicity will help drum up interest among holiday shoppers?

It's been a rough year for Nintendo. In late October, Nintendo posted a profit of only 69.5 billion yen – approximately $767 million – for the most recent six-month fiscal period. By comparison, during the same six-month period last year, Nintendo raked in 144.83 billion yen, more than double the 2009 figure.

Nintendo has blamed the slump on a drop in sales of the Wii – the console which had buoyed Nintendo’s fortunes since its 2006 release. Nintendo sold only 5.75 million Wii machines globally during the first half of 2009, down from 10 million in 2008.

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