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Quick Hits: Nintendo Wii Gets Physical


Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

Video games aren't just for couch potatoes any more.

A Manhattan gym -- Gravity Fitness at the Le Parker Meridien Hotel -- charges $110 for a Nintendo (NTDOY) Wii training session. Increasing numbers of people hoping to shed the spud-shaped look are signing up.

It's not as nutty as it sounds. Folks already familiar with gazing into a video screen while working out on an elliptical trainer have quickly embraced the game system as part of their exercise routine.

And a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin found that playing sports on Nintendo Wii increases heart rate, boosts maximum oxygen intake - and burns calories.

Researchers found that those playing Nintendo Wii boxing burned about 216 calories in 30 minutes. Those playing Wii tennis burned about 159 calories; baseball, 135; bowling, 117; and golf, 93. So the use of Nintendo Wii for exercise isn't completely off the reservation, even if few working out aspire to anything more than Super Mario's somewhat ample physique.

"While they have managed to get traditional gamers off the couch and our results show that Wii Sports offer more of a cardio benefit than sedentary games, we believe there is no substitute for the real sport," the researchers concluded.

You don't need a Ph.D. to figure that out. But with space at a premium in Manhattan, it makes sense for people to stand in front of a video screen and whack golf balls.

Clients using the Wii for boxing put on real gloves and learn how to throw hooks, jabs and crosses - never mind that the punches wouldn't get Muhammad Ali's attention.

The use of video games during a workout suggests what many have long suspected: Woody Allen was ahead of his time when he introduced the Orgasmatron in 1973's Sleeper.
Of course, that device was popular in the year 2173.

Will life imitate slapstick? The possibilities for Nintendo Wii knockoffs are endless: Oil traders could stretch their skills with a screen of flashing red and green numbers that would get them up and screaming; Wall Street analysts could slug the CEO for stupid or non-responsive answers and individual investors could place their bets on what's sure to be The Next Big Thing via a handheld gizmo while running to stay ahead of the market.

Fret not: Some clever game designer is sure to come up with Fannie (FNM) and Freddie (FRE) Bailout! any minute now.
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