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In Senior Living, ‘Exergaming’ is Good for the Brain

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 17 January 2012

Many researchers and medical professionals would agree: if it’s good for your body, it’s good for your brain. To that end, many senior living communities – whose residents are at increasing risk for Alzheimer’s or dementia as they age – are embracing programs that promote brain health.

We covered several of these programs (Brain Age, Posit Science, the Dakim BrainFitness system and Fit Brains) in a previous post. Based on a current Medical News Today article, the assisted living communities that offer them are on the cutting edge, as the benefits of ‘exergames,’ which combine physical exercise and “computer-simulated environments and interactive videogame features” are now being recognized in a national study.

Recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the study affirms that these types of virtual reality-enhanced exercise routines “can yield a greater cognitive benefit for older adults than traditional exercise alone.”

Exercise can prevent or delay dementia (and improve cognitive function), particularly for seniors. However, a slim percentage of those over 65 report a regular fitness routine. The study’s lead investigator, Cay Anderson-Hanley, PhD, attests that “exergames have the potential to increase exercise by shifting attention from aversive aspects toward motivating features such as competition and three-dimensional scenery, leading to greater frequency and intensity, and enhanced health outcomes.” Great news for game-loving seniors and communities everywhere: Wii bowling tournament, anyone?

Your turn: What ‘exergames’ do you enjoy?

 

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