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Wii Fit. U fit?

Click to buy at Amazon.com by Terry Cochran

Something amazing has happened in the past few weeks: I got back into a regular daily exercise routine -- and I love it! We had planned on getting the new Wii Fit balance board and software when it first came out, but had never quite gotten around to it. And then a recent hospital stay convinced me that regular exercise might help prepare me for the likely health challenges of the next few decades. After all, aging is not for the faint of heart -- a concept which is literally true for me and many others.

The delicate phrase "heart condition" does not nearly convey the fatigue and frustration that accompany both the atrial fibrillation and heart failure episodes that I experienced. These do not have to be life-threatening issues, but they still seem pretty bizarre as you go through them.

I've always thought myself to be pretty healthy. After all, this was my first inpatient stay since I had my tonsils removed fifty years ago. On the other hand, I've had no regular exercise since I stopped playing rec league ball in the '70's. When sliding into second to stretch out a single hurt my knee or when shoulder pains from one game's batting were still with me at the start of the next one, I just decided it was time to find a new hobby.

Life was getting too busy, anyhow, right? When you're in your thirties, it's time to build a family, grow a career, and maintain that ever growing household. And so I did. Oh, I always told myself I'd get back to regular exercise someday, but that never quite happened.

So there I was, on my little hospital vacation, a seven day/six night all-inclusive stay at Club Meds. It's amazing what $50,000 a week will buy for you! The food's actually pretty good, you get hot and cold running docs, and they're pros at jump-starting the old ticker.

As I sat around, waiting to be paroled, however, I started reading all these pamphlets about keeping your body strong and how fitness might be just what I needed to avoid a return visit. Thus, the Wii Fit was delivered to our house, a few days after I was.

The Nintendo Wii has been a fun toy for a while now, but the only serious work I'd done on it was to see if I could keep my bowling average over 200. I enjoy the game, but I don't play it often enough to be consistent. After a few days of lying around the house, however -- both for the Wii Fit and me -- I decided it was time for a change.

For those who've not seen the Wii Fit in action, it has four different types of activities: Yoga, strengthening exercises, aerobics, and balance games. You can learn all about it at Amazon.com, if you'd like -- and you also need a Nintendo Wii, too, of course. Each section in the Wii Fit software starts you off on one- or two-minute segments and then expands your offerings as you earn fitness points.

The balance games are a good place to start, since they trick you into exercising as you enjoy the games. Whether it's soccer headers, tight rope walking, ski jumps or slaloms, or any of the other games, you'll have fun as you get back into shape.

I'd never done yoga before, but I find I spend most of my time in that section now. What's really great, however, is that this is Competitive Yoga! The designers built in a rating system for your performance on each exercise, to help you improve. My wife thinks that's its only purpose, but I know better: Every time, there's a chance to win!

By the way, avoid playing against her in boxing or hula hooping. She may claim competiton is just for ex-jocks, but she'll punch out your lights or swing circles around you, every time.

The bottom line here is that I've improved my bottom line! My weight's holding steady and it's at a level I passed many years ago. And although I may not have abs of steel -- abs of plywood, perhaps? -- my overall muscle tone is better than it's been in decades. How's yours?

Wii fit. U fit?

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