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Getting health benefits from video games

Getting health benefits from video games

It’s a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon, and chances are that a lot of Chicagoland kids are inside playing video games. As adults, whether it be a parent or a grandparent, it should be our responsibility to get those kids off the couch and outside. And then once Chicago’s youth have taken a deep breath of fresh air, we adults, should then feel it our responsibility to pick up those controllers and start playing video games where the kids left off.

Although it might sound a bit odd, a recent Wall Street Journal post titled “How Video Games Keep Seniors Fit,” discussed the positive results of this exact behavior. The editor described self-management programs that have gained some recent recognition. These self-management programs address the need to manage typical chronic conditions seen in 90 percent of those 65 years old and older.

“Just a few days ago, Microsoft announced a dramatic expansion of another such program,” the editor explained. “This one uses electronic games to encourage senior citizens to exercise more. It equips participants with devices that allow them to better monitor the

ir blood pressure, blood sugar and other indicators of health status—and transmit this data to their healthcare providers. Preliminary results indicate that participants see health improvements.”

Microsoft’s year-old “Exergamers Wellness Club,” brought 34 members of a local senior center together to dance, bowl and do Tai Chi. And all of these activities happened on the Microsoft Kinect, which is available on the Xbox 360. Kinect is a motion-capturing technology that implements players’ movements into on-screen game play. Essentially, the bowling alley, ski slope or links come to you.

“Bonnie Kearney, director of marketing for accessibility and aging at Microsoft, says the 34 pioneers appear to have reaped health benefits,” the article relayed. “In addition to becoming more active and fit, several seniors in the program experienced enhanced mobility. One even credits the program with enabling him to trade-in his wheelchair for a walker. Others have seen reductions in blood pressure readings and an increased commitment to regular exercise.”

In addition to the health benefits, Kearney said that everyone who participated in the wellness club reported that they actually felt happier. And we here at Freedom Home Care get a smile when we realize how this readily accessible technology could do the same for our patients.

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