If you think playing a Wii sport game is helping you or your child exercise, think again. Research is showing that so-called “active” video games – such as Wii Fit Plus, Wii Sports and Dance Dance Revolution – actually result in their players expending no more physical effort than those playing passive games, such as Mario Kart.

A study by Ohio State University noted that people tend to burn twice as many calories per minute doing an actual activity than when doing the same activity on the Wii. Another study – this one by the Children’s Nutrition Research Center in Texas – fitted 84 children ages nine through 12 with accelerometers, then recorded their physical activity levels while interacting with active Wii games. The findings? Not so good, as the study found the children did not achieve a beneficial activity level.

So while there’s an undeniable appeal to the idea of getting a good workout in front of the TV, research just isn’t backing it up. Here’s why joining a fitness club is the best way to get real results:

  1. You still have to do the “work” in a workout, but a good fitness club (let’s go ahead and say it – Future Fitness) provides a wide variety of state-of-the-art equipment that will allow you to target your specific goals – such as cardiovascular or strength training.
  2. You’ll get assistance and training from certified personal trainers who can show you how to do movements properly, and stop or prevent you from using improper techniques that can cause injury.
  3. You can participate in fitness classes and programs. Not only will you learn the right movements, you’ll benefit from the structure of a class, the length and intensity of the class, and the pace the instructor sets.
  4. You can get immediate feedback on your results while working out, from heart rate monitoring to the number of miles walked on a treadmill or cycled on a stationary bike.
  5. You’ll socialize, which helps the mind/body balance. Even if you’re not the type for chitchat, the very action of getting out of the house and being among others who are focused on improving their fitness is beneficial.

Also, if you want your kids to be fit, you need to lead by example. Families that follow a healthy lifestyle tend to pay close attention to the nutritional quality of their food, and enjoy more activities outdoors. Joining a fitness club can allow you to be a great role model, and give you the energy to get every member of your family up and moving.

As reported in The New York Times, the Ohio State study made a conclusion that should not be surprising. Said Jack L. Nasar, professor of city and regional planning at Ohio State, who oversaw the research: “You’re better off doing the real thing.”