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Apr 24

Video Games Good for Seniors Health


By Rick Nauert PhDSenior News Editor Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on April 24, 2012

Two new articles suggest that younger folks may have some competition over the video controller.

New research suggests that video game technology can be a valuable tool for helping people of all ages improve lifestyle and health habits and manage disease. Researchers have discovered that “exergames” have significant benefits for older adults by providing cognitive stimulation and a source of social interaction, exercise, and fun.  According to two articles in Games for Health Journal, the games help senior adults’ lead fuller, more independent lives for a longer time,

“The elderly often forsake their lifelong activities in exchange for the safety, security, and care of institutional living,” said Editor-in-Chief Bill Ferguson, Ph.D.  “This trade-off need not require the sacrifice of physical activity and fitness. Furthermore, video games offer an escape from routine. All of these benefits can improve the well-being of elderly adults.”

Experts say that digital games offer a home-based method to support behavior modification. The games can serve as a method to motivate individuals to take better care of themselves and to self-mange chronic conditions.  Physical, occupation and speech therapists are taking advantage of technology to develop home-based rehabilitation and training programs for older adults.

Video games also offer a good alternative to traditional forms of aerobic exercise, according to the authors, Hannah Marston, Ph.D., German Sport University Cologne, Germany, and Stuart Smith, Ph.D., Neuroscience Research, Randwick, New South Wales, Australia.  Researchers determined video games interest older adults because of the fun involved with gaming; the social aspect of the experience; the challenge it presents; the combination of cognitive and physical activity; and the ability to gain specific skills as a result of gaming.

Source: Mary Ann Liebert

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