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Video games used to keep older adults active

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A group of professors from Iowa are using video games to get older people active.

According to a spokesperson from Iowa State University, professors have started using video games to promote fitness and encourage activity among older adults. The method is called “exergaming” and it is an integration of game play and physical activity.

A research group created the program, Living well through Intergenerational Fitness and Exercise (LIFE), and instilled it within several Iowa communities. The program was made to target people in isolated or rural areas who do not have access to a gym.

“Our program is really focused on whole-person wellness,” said Jennifer Margrett, an associate professor of human development and family studies and director of the gerontology program. “By socializing and doing interactive games, older adults are also exercising their brains, building relationships, and so it helps in more than one way.”

Trainers who are in high school or college led an eight-week “exergaming” program which combined strength-building exercises with video games. During the program, the trainers taught the older adults in the class how to use the technology so they can continue to “exergame” after the program was complete.

Assistant professor of food science and human nutrition, Sarah Francis said the program is relatively low-cost and it can be done anywhere with a decent amount of space and a TV.

“These small, rural towns may not have a gym, but a room in the library or a community center where they can set up is all they need.”

Click here to see the website launched to help implement the program.

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