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Seniors Benefit The Most From Exer Games: Other Groups Can Get Limited Benefits As Well
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Seniors Benefit the Most From Exer Games: Other Groups Can Get Limited Benefits As Well

When Nintendo released the Wii gaming system in 2007 the company announced that it would be one of the best ways to help people of all ages to get into shape and become more fit. Health experts, doctors groups and others were wary about the systems effectiveness and warned that people may become too dependent on the games alone to get any type of exercise. A number of studies have been performed to study how much real health benefits could be released using the Wii as well as similar, active gaming systems, frequently referred to as "exer games".

A new meta study, which looks at the collective results of several studies with similar factors has drawn the conclusion that while there are some benefits from the games, the study that gets the most benefit are senior citizens. Wei Peng, the study's author, from the Michigan State University said that after analyzing several types of data, the researchers could determine the exact benefits seen from the exer games. Peng looked at the amount of energy that was expended, the heart rate, oxygen consumed and muscular activation in groups of various ages and activity levels. Peng discovered that for most groups, even the games that were labeled as the most active did not create as much of a positive benefit as a regular, full body work out did. The conclusion was that while the games were great for motivation and better overall than watching television, they were not a replacement for actual time spent playing or working out.

But, Peng cited a study performed by the National Council on Strength and Fitness in 2010 showing that these types of games not only increased mobility, dexterity and coordination in seniors living in a nursing home, but also gave them a distraction from chronic pain in many cases as well.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a set level of moderate to vigorous exercise each week for all groups but say that even the most active of these games is not hitting that level. Energy expenditure and muscle activation is higher in the exer games that use the lower body but still only falls in the light to moderate exercise levels.

Obesity focused doctors and health advocates say that the games might serve as a positive motivator to getting some groups up and moving and can be a starting point to a new exercise routine, especially in those who had been previously sedentary.


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