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edited by katie barnes. email: katiebarnes@leisuremedia.com research round-up


and mental decline. In fact, there have been numerous studies proving this. Research released in the American


Journal of Preventative Medicine in February1


, however, shows that virtual


reality-enhanced exercise or ‘exergames’ – with interactive features and computer- simulated environments – can help to improve cognitive function in older adults even more than just exercise on its own. With dementia cases set to reach the 100 million mark globally by 2050, exergaming could prove a compelling treatment and preventative measure.


The study found the cybercycle riders had ‘significantly’ better brain function


cybercycle study The three-month ‘cybercycle study’, conducted by researchers at New York’s Union College, was based on 102 volunteers from retirement communities aged 58–99 years (although only 63 completed the randomised control trial). Participants lived independently and


were given identical recumbent bikes, except for a virtual reality display


which only one group had access to. All participants were told to gradually increase exercise to a maximum of 45 minutes, five days a week. While one group simply cycled on the


bike for the three months, another group was introduced to exergaming one month in – 3D tours on-screen and racing against a ‘ghost rider’ (their last best ride).


the rise and popularity of exergaming O 80


nly 14 per cent of adults aged 65–74 and 7 per cent of adults aged over 75 exercise


regularly, according to the CDC Health People 2010 Database in the US. But according to a new study from


New York’s Union College (see above), the rise in popularity of exercise videogames such as Wii Fit and PlayStation Move could offer a solution.


“Exergames have the potential


to increase exercise by shifting attention away from aversive aspects towards motivating features such as competition and 3D scenery,” reports the study. “Participation in exergaming, compared with traditional exercise, can lead to greater frequency and intensity and enhanced healthy outcomes.”


results After the three months, there was a noticeable difference between the two groups. The cybercycle riders were found to have ‘significantly’ better executive brain function when it came to assessments of planning, working memory, attention and problem solving. In addition, the cybercycle group


had a 23 per cent reduction in the risk of progression to mild cognitive impairment compared to those in the traditional static cycle group. While there was no difference


in exercise frequency, intensity or duration between the two groups, the authors say that this may be due to prescriptive intervention and that “further research is needed to evaluate whether naturalistic use would lead to great effort by cybercyclists” – ie whether even greater benefi ts would be experienced if users were allowed free rein to exercise as they wished.


1Anderson-Hanley, C et Al. Exergaming and Older Adult Cognition. The American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Vol 42, issue 2, p109-119, February 2012 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital march 2012 © cybertrek 2012


virtual benefi ts I


Video exercise games can give more of a mental boost to older adults than just physical activity on its own, say scientists


t’s no secret that regular physical activity can help boost cognitive function in older adults and help to delay the onset of dementia


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