Video games and seniors: here are two things that we don’t often think of as going hand-in-hand. But this could be changing.
A study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience and conducted at Union College in New York, has found that adults suffering from mild cognitive impairment, (MCI), can significantly improve certain complex thinking and memory skills through exergaming.
What exactly is this? Exergaming refers to video games that also require participants to engage in physical exercise.
People who display MCI often go on onto develop Alzheimer’s, and so the news is welcomed.
“It’s promising data,” said Cay Anderson-Hanley, associate professor of psychology at Union College and the study’s lead author. “Exergaming is one more thing that could be added to the arsenal of tools to fight back against this cruel disease.”
Participants were asked to pedal along a scenic virtual reality path on special bikes placed in hospitals, community centers and independent living centers. They had to exercise while playing a video game that included chasing dragons and collecting coins.
It was found that, while strange, the activity significantly improved participants’ executive function, something which plays a part in multi-tasking and decision making.
“The goal is to explore even more effective ways to prevent or ameliorate cognitive decline in older adults by tailoring accessibility and level of mental engagement in interactive cognitive and physical exercise,” said Anderson-Hanley. “The results suggest that the best outcome for brain health may result when we do both: move it and use it.”
Researchers are hoping the results encourage seniors, caregivers and health care providers to pursue or prescribe exergames in an effort to slow the debilitating effects of MCI. For more information on the study, click here.
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