Exergaming: What Is It? And, How It Can Benefit Everyone

Exergaming

By Brendan Skeen, CEO and Founder of 55 Fitness

At some point we have probably all been frustrated by children becoming completely lost and seemingly entranced by their phones, tablets, computers, and video games. The technology divide between older adults and younger people is undeniable. However a relatively new genre of video games known as “exergaming” can bridge this divide and all ages can benefit physically, cognitively and emotionally while enjoying quality time together.

The “exergaming”genre of video games are not just for kids! Game systems like Nintendo Wii offer a wide variety of games that promote physical activity with games such as bowling, baseball, dancing and tennis. Wii consoles are typically kept in the family/living room which confirms the"exergaming"trend is a popular way to motivate multigenerationalfamily interaction.

Studies have shown that Wii games can improve balance and coordination among older adults but the benefits were not limited to physical fitness. Researchers at Union College studied seniors who had been diagnosed with or were at risk for mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a precursor to Alzheimer’s, over a period of six months.

The seniors were divided into two groups, one group participated in exergaming 3-5 times per week while the other group either only played video games or only exercised without a video component. To the surprise of the researchers the exergamers blew the other group out of the water.

The results showed that the seniors who exercised while playing video games experienced significantly better executive function, which controls multi-tasking and decision making. Executive function is the key to remaining independent as you age. For example, it makes sure you don’t forget that you have something in the oven while you’re putting clothes into the washing machine. The benefits of exergaming for the mature adults didn’t stop there. The exergamers also saw exponentially greater improvements in verbal memory and physical function too.

With scientific proof of the physical, emotional, and cognitive benefits for all ages, capitalize on your grandchildren's interest technology and get them moving. Who knows you may finally even beat them at a video game.