Don’t Forget to Play Your Video Games

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Mar 27, 2012 | Programming & Outreach

With some of the latest technology to hit the market today, children, adults and yes, even seniors, are now being exposed to not only the entertainment value, but the health benefits of playing video games. Once upon a time our families elder members were left with few options for beneficial entertainment aside from a standard crossword or jigsaw puzzle. Now, the whole family can enjoy the many physical and social benefits associated with using video games.

Rising to popularity are gaming consoles, such as the Wii, Xbox Kinect and the PlayStation 3. The games utilize special motion sensors where participants are required to actually get on their feet and simulate realistic motions used when doing various activities, like dancing, bowling, playing tennis and even boxing. Fitness games allow people of all ages to break a sweat in the comfort of their own home or retirement community and have become a common sight in many senior living communities.

On top of the health benefits is socialization. Many of these video games have multi-player options, allowing several individuals to play as a team or competitively, which provides an opportunity to finally achieve a higher score than your neighbor down the hall at Wii bowling or break the ice with new neighbors and future friends with a few rounds of virtual boxing.

For seniors who may be less mobile, there are still options such as video games for various hand-held devices like the iPad. Additionally, in 2009, a study from North Carolina State University’s “Gains through Gaming” labs shared test results regarding two studies focusing on the development of cognitive functioning in senior citizens. The 14 participants, averaging an age of 69, underwent a pre-testing session, given a two hour basic lesson on the game “World of Warcraft”, and were then asked to log a minimum of 14 hours of gameplay over two weeks. After the two week trial, researchers conducted the same cognitive functioning tests and determined that participants improved in areas including spatial abilityexecutive functioningmemory and cognitive speed.

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