Wii Gets Stamp of Approval from American Heart Association

People may scoff at the idea that playing games on Nintendo’s Wii Fit might actually improve one’s health, but there are lots of believers out there.  Websites are dedicated to discussing Wii workouts and Wii Fit success stories abound.  But even if you don’t use your Wii Fit on a regular basis, just having one puts the possibility of exercise close at hand, right?

The American Heart Association (AHA) believes it does and in an effort to reach those who might shun traditional exercise, they’ve teamed up with Nintendo to form a partnership

As part of their shared goal to promote active play, the AHA will allow their familiar heart logo to appear on packaging for Nintendo Wii consoles as well as Wii Fit and Wii Fit Sports Resort beginning this summer.  In addition, Nintendo will sponsor American Heart Association Start! Heart Walk events around the country, promoting their active-play video games on-site.  And finally, the AHA and Nintendo will both sponsor a research summit aimed at studying the “synergies and benefits of active-play video games.”

As an organization dedicated to improving the heart health of Americans, it might seem a little strange for the AHA to team up with a giant corporation whose main goal is to get kids to stay indoors and play video games.  But AHA president Dr. Clyde Yancy says the two organizations have more in common than you might think.

“Showing people accessible ways to stay active has been a part of our mission for decades, but our research tells us nearly 70 percent of Americans are getting no regular physical activity. As an organization we are looking for ways to change this. Nintendo has demonstrated clear leadership in active-play video games with the popularity of the Wii system, and I’m confident that together we can encourage Americans to become more physically active.”

Still, there are those who find the partnership disturbing.  Janet Fulton of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention questions the wisdom of slapping the AHA logo on games that have yet to be proven to have any health benefits whatsoever.

It is easy to see what Nintendo gains from this partnership, but what about the non-profit American Heart Association?  What’s in it for them?  In addition to high profile placement of their logo, they get to spend the $1.5 million Nintendo is donating as part of the deal.  And that donation, some say, gives the impression that the AHA logo is for sale and may ultimately diminish its impact on the public consciousness.

Does this sound like a marriage made in heaven?  Or a clever, if expensive, marketing strategy on the part of Nintendo?  I can only speak for myself when I say that my Wii Fit Plus helped me get moving.  I even lost a few pounds.  But I am not obese or at risk for heart disease.  Will those who really need to get the message about the importance of exercise benefit from the the AHA’s endorsement of Nintendo games?  Or is the American Heart Association damaging their own reputation by getting in bed with a video game maker?

Image: Nintendo and American Heart Association

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