Exergaming and Older Adult Cognition

A Cluster Randomized Clinical Trial

Read the story behind this study in the author interview

This study suggests virtual "cybercycling" can produce a beneficial cognitive effect over and above traditional exercise.

Physical exercise may prevent or delay dementia. However, getting older people regularly moving is a particular challenge, as evidenced by the fact that only 14 percent of adults aged 65 to 74 years and 7 percent of those over 75 years exercise regularly. More compelling interventions are needed to motivate older adults to exercise.

One such promising possibility lies in virtual reality-enhanced exercise or exergames that combine physical exercise with an interactive video game

The Cybercyle Study was a multi-site cluster randomized clinical trial that compared the benefit of cybercycling to that of stationary cycling for older adults. Volunteers were recruited from eight independent living facilities. Participants rode identical recumbent stationary bikes and were taught how to monitor and achieve a target heart rate. After familiarization, cybercycle participants experienced 3-D tours and competed with their last best ride. Cognitive testing was done on both groups at baseline, one month (pre-intervention) and 3 months (post-intervention).

Cybercyclers who bicycled through a virtual reality landscape had significantly better executive functioning at three months than those expending a similar physical effort using a traditional stationary bike.

Health Games Research: Advancing Effectiveness of Interactive Games for Health is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pioneer Portfolio that explores innovative ways to advance the research, design and effectiveness of interactive games that are used to improve health. The goal of the program is to harness the power of interactive games to improve health-related behaviors and achieve significantly better health outcomes.

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