Nintendo's Wii, Heart Association Team On Play

Wii/AHATime to get over the image of gamers as couch potatoes. The American Heart Association (AHA) and Nintendo are teaming up to present the Wii video game console as not just an entertainment system, but a pathway to physical activity.

"We have a common goal of helping people live a healthier lifestyle," Neil M. Metzler, chairman of the American Heart Association's national board, tells Marketing Daily.

The partnership, which launched on Monday, includes putting the AHA's logo on boxes for the Wii Fit balance board controller and on the Wii Sports Resort games beginning this summer. The logo placement is not intended to convey an out-and-out endorsement of the product, but rather that the AHA views the product as valuable for a healthy lifestyle.

"It's not really an endorsement. We just realize anything we can do to get people moving is a good thing," Metzler says. "We're not specifically saying that the Wii is good for you, but [we are saying] that any activity is better than none."

In addition, Nintendo and the AHA have partnered on www.activeplaynow. com, where consumers can learn more about the benefits of active play, conduct their own assessments about whether they are getting enough exercise and learn more about living an active lifestyle. Later this year, Nintendo and the AHA will convene a summit of health and fitness professionals, scientists and those involved with gaming to explore the benefits of active-play games and a physically active lifestyle.

The partnership was born out of AHA research showing that 70% of Americans don't reach the levels of physical activity recommended by the association (150 minutes/week for adults, 60 minutes a day for children). And while the two main reasons people cite for not getting enough physical activity are lack of time and lack of enjoyment, they are still finding time to play video games, Metzler says. "This partnership with Nintendo is to show people [physical exercise] can be fun and part of family time," Metzler says. "If we can use the technology people are already comfortable with and enjoy, we can reach the population that we haven't been reaching."

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