Friday, January 9, 2009

And the mystery exercise is...

Well, my sister caught me (never buy anything on eBay that you don't want your relatives to spot on your bidder list!), so I might as well confess: I bought a Wii console and a Wii Fit balance board & fitness program. It cost a ton (they're very popular right now), but I had a 10% eBay coupon at the time, so I wiggled it into the budget.

I'd been considering it for a while because the commercials for Wii Fit actually made exercise look like fun for a change, but the thing that made me decide to go ahead and get it was throwing my back out two days in a row. My boss told me "they" say strengthening my abs will prevent future back spasms (or whatever it was I did to myself). I Googled it and she was right.

At the time, I couldn't even bend over to tie my shoes, let alone do crunches, but I determined to get serious about exercise as soon as I was able. However, I knew I wouldn't continue anything that was boring longer than two weeks--I never have. So I started thinking seriously about getting a Wii Fit. I came up with three solid reasons for it:
  • I need to lose weight;
  • I need to strengthen my "core" muscles so my back will stop spazzing; and
  • I'd like to improve my balance, if possible (I have Meneire's disease, which makes me an even bigger klutz than I used to be).
I'd also add that I need to lower my cholesterol, but that sorta goes along with losing weight, and anyway, it's more diet-related (I think).

Wii is a fancy videogame outfit and I'm of the Pinball Era, so I had to do some research on the thing to figure out what I needed to use a Wii Fit. You tech-savvy folks already know what a Wii is, but for the rest of us, it consists of a console (little box hooked up to your TV) into which you insert game disks (basically CDs), a sensor bar that goes on top of the TV, and a couple of remotes. One looks a lot like a TV remote; the other is sort of a one-handed joystick-thing called a nunchuk (I haven't tried that one yet). My console came with a disk of four sports games: baseball, tennis, bowling, and boxing. You wave the remote around in certain ways to pitch, bat, throw an imaginary bowling ball, and so forth. The sensor bar picks up the movements of the remote in your hand and the action takes place on the TV screen as the game responds to you. It's pretty cool.

The Wii Fit balance board operates like a remote, except that you stand on it instead of holding it. The program reads your weight, position, and force (for instance, during lunges or the yoga Warrior pose). There are lots of different exercises in the Wii Fit program; they're divided into yoga, strength training, balance games, and aerobics. The program gives you feedback about your performance and keeps track of your progress, including BMI and weight. As you rack up exercise minutes, it unlocks new activities or more advanced levels of current activities. And the activities do make you work to the point of sweatiness, so it's not like you're just playing passive sit-&-click videogames. It's like having a personal trainer but without the continued expense. You gotta "Wii" every day, though, or the program will gently nag you about skipping days.  :)

While doing the various exercises, I've discovered that my forward/backward balance is pretty good, but my left/right balance sux rox.  :D  I can't stand on one foot to do exercises--I invariably fall off the balance board--but there are plenty of activities that don't require emulating a flamingo. And I'm sure I'll improve as I go along.

One part of me that has unexpectedly gotten a workout is my FEET! Wow, are they tired at the end of a session, mostly from minding my center of balance (which was way off) during the various exercises. I also feel the workout in my knees for a bit afterward, but it's not too bad. One unexpected bonus has been really good sleep. I do my workout from 8-9pm, cool down, go to bed about 9:30 or 10pm, and sleep through the night without chemical assistance (until Minnie wakes me for scritches, of course). Gee, the doctor, your mother, your health-nut friends, your cat, your dog, "they" were all right--exercise helps you sleep. Wonders never cease!

Wanna know more about Wii Fit? Go to the official website.

By the way, here's a site I found on back pain and back exercises, plus a little squib on what core muscles are: Yeah, well, I didn't know--it wasn't relevant when I was studying anatomy for art.

OK, end of commercial. We now return you to your regularly scheduled cat blogs.  :)


Everycat said...

I really want to try a Wii fit. I'm trying to convince Mr Everycat that it would be a great investment. He isn't convinced - yet.

las794 said...

Tell him if you wind up not liking it, you can probably sell it for almost what you paid for it--those things are hot right now!