When you hear about exergaming – think Nintendo Wii Fit and Xbox 360 Kinect – you probably hear about using it to add more heart-boosting, mood-lifting and weight-melting aerobic exercise to your life. To be sure, it can give the health benefits of aerobic exercise, yet that’s not all this type of game has to offer.
We created a list of the many benefits exergames could provide your patients or residents that extend far beyond a cardio workout. Check out these five exergaming benefits we collected, which can improve the life of anyone from children to aging adults:
A prime advantage of exergaming is that it’s fun! Having fun can bring happiness, help you enjoy the moment and relieve stress. This type of game makes exercise more fun with its innovative approach, yet also simply provides a fun activity for when your patients feel like playing instead of getting a workout.
We can’t help but notice that the wide range of game choices gives something for different personalities to enjoy. For instance, your various clients could dance, play golf, bowl, perform ski jumps and much more. These games allow people to try all sorts of activities they might not have easy access to or be able to perform in real life.
Benefits to the Mind
While the exercise and social stimulation exergames provide have the ability to boost mental health, we have noticed the broader improvements exergames offer for mental well-being and cognitive abilities, which are being supported by expanding research.
The Power of Play: Innovations in Getting Active Summit 2011 found that exergames tend to enhance self-esteem and confidence, while a study in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry discovered that exergames improved symptoms and boosted cognitive performance in older adults with subsyndromal depression. Also, the Child Development Perspectives journal discussed exergames’ ability to improve a variety of cognitive functions, including:
- spatial awareness
- response to visual stimuli
Whether you work with a group of kids or aging adults, you can bring them together and help them bond through exergames. “When played with a group, exergames can generate encouragement and social support that improve a player’s psychological state,” says Harvard Heart Letter.
These games encourage people to play together instead of alone, and people tend to talk about them and encourage each other’s healthy practices, according to The Power of Play summit. The way the games are set up to be simple and inclusive even helps combat social anxiety.
To encourage a group dynamic, you can add accessories to these video games systems for your facility. For instance, accessories for the Xbox 360 Kinect include a bundle package with multiple Dance Dance Revolution pads so numerous people can play this dance game at once, while you can purchase a school pack for the Wii that includes Dance Dance Revolution pads, pedometers and a variety of other exercise accessories.
Adding strength to muscles is an important aspect of exercise, which is why it’s recommended along with aerobic training. Strength training exercises also strengthen bones, which makes them ideal for aging adults. We like the convenience of exergames, including Wii Fit, that offer an array of strength training movements relying on body weight resistance to bulk and tone instead of requiring free weights or weight machines.
Flexibility, Coordination and Balance
Exercise isn’t just about aerobics and strength training, which are the two main types most people focus on. It should also incorporate movements that stretch muscles, create balance and improve coordination. These types of exercise are particularly helpful for aging adults as these parts of their health can deteriorate over time.
Fortunately, focusing on these areas is one of the benefits of exergames. They offer yoga poses that stretch the body and fun games that target balance and coordination. The Wii balance board even provides feedback on how well a person’s body is balanced.
No matter which age groups and populations you work with, exergames can be an ideal fit for a facility since they provide so many benefits. These games are especially beneficial to physical fitness when they’re included within a wider fitness routine, and we hope our list shows you the many advantages of these games that extend beyond aerobic fitness.