Exergaming May Help Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

It is inevitable. As your brain ages, memory loss is more common and sometimes can become a precursor to dementia.

Although there is no strong scientific evidence that Alzheimer’s can be prevented, older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), often a precursor to Alzheimer’s, showed significant improvement with certain complex thinking and memory skills after exergaming (combining the fun of video games, cutting-edge, high-tech equipment, and other creative tools with proven fitness tactics—such as heart-pumping movement or core building balance—to help children and adults build their strength, fitness, and self-confidence while having the most fun possible), according to a new study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

The results could encourage seniors, caregivers and health care providers to pursue or prescribe exergames (video games that also require physical exercise) in hopes of slowing the debilitating effects of those with MCI, sometimes a stage between normal brain aging and dementia.

“It’s promising data,” said Cay Anderson-Hanley, associate professor of psychology at Union College and the study’s lead author. “Exergaming is one more thing that could be added to the arsenal of tools to fight back against this cruel disease.”

“The goal is to explore even more effective ways to prevent or ameliorate cognitive decline in older adults by tailoring accessibility and level of mental engagement in interactive cognitive and physical exercise,” Anderson-Hanley said. “The results suggest that the best outcome for brain health may result when we do both: move it and use it.”

As you age, regular exercise is more important than ever to your body and mind.  And, fitness for seniors – and those of us who are baby boomers – can be fun using exergaming!

Fitness for Health is proud to utilize state-of-the-art exergaming in our Fitness for Seniors program to ensure fitness remains fun.  Not only is exercise is good for your heart, it’s also good for your brain. Exercising when young and fitness for seniors benefits regular brain functions and can help keep the brain active, which can prevent memory loss, cognitive decline, and dementia. Any exercise that gets the heart pumping may reduce the risk of dementia and slow the condition’s progression once it starts, reports a Mayo Clinic study published in October 2011 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Additionally, exercise boosts mood and self-confidence.  It is a fact that people have a higher rate of depression as they age.  Endorphins produced by exercise can actually help you feel better and reduce feelings of sadness. Being active and feeling strong naturally helps you feel more self-confident and improves your self-image.

Now that you know the importance of exercise for the young – and the young-at-heart, I hope to see you in the gym!

As you age, staying active mentally is just as important as staying active physically. At Fitness for Health, we can help you achieve both using our exergaming program. Our unique approach to senior wellness focuses on helping you strengthen and maintain the skills that other workouts often overlook. Learn how our Fitness for Seniors program can help you maintain weight management, increase bone and joint health and improve your cognitive abilities.