Friday, October 4, 2013

I WANT TO LEARN HOW TO DO THIS: "Virtual reality games can improve cognitive decline and are better than traditional exercise"

(R) ANNE ROBBS, Columnist & Editor

Chief Executive,
Barrow Neurological Foundation

There is research now claiming that virtual reality games can improve cognitive decline and are better than traditional exercise.   OK, ditch than exercise bike and invest in WII or PlayStation Move consoles with games like WII fit, bowling and cyber cycling.  These so-called “excergames” tend to increase the appeal of exercise by shifting away from some of the unpleasant aspects of working out and toward motivating features such as competition and 3-D scenery.  It’s fun while improving your body as well as you brain!

“We anticipated that seniors would enjoy cybercycling, which they did, but we did not anticipate such a robust and significant cognitive effect from cybercycling compared with traditional exercise,” lead investigator Cay Anderson-Hanley, PhD, from Union College, Schenectady, New York reported. “This gives us hope that more can be done to boost participation in exercise and increase the benefit of a workout through innovative excergames.”

Trials were completed on seniors and it showed that exercise can make a meaningful difference in brain health later in your life as well as yielding additional cognitive benefit.  In the study, older adults who cybercycled 2 to 3 times a week for 3 months had significantly greater cognitive benefit for the same effort as those who rode a traditional bike.  One explanation for the greater benefit found with cybercycling compared with traditional cycling is the added mental exercise required like navigating a 3-D landscape, anticipating turns and competing with others required additional focus, expanded divided attention and decision making.

This is hopeful for older adults since researchers have shown that slowing the onset of dementia by 1 year through excersice and diet can decrease the number of the 8 million people expected to be diagnosed in the US by 2050.

So pick up that remote control, get your friends together and play your heart out.  You can play by sitting or standing but play.  You will discover a new way to have a party!