According to researchers in New York , virtual 'exergames' could hold the key to slowing physical and mental decline in older people.
Lead investigator Dr Cay Anderson-Hanley said: "We found that for older adults, virtual-reality enhanced interactive exercise, or 'cybercycling' two to three times per week for 3 months, yielded greater cognitive benefit, and perhaps added protection against mild cognitive impairment (MCI), than a similar dose of traditional exercise."
Only 7% of adults aged between 65 and 74 exercise regularly, despite research showing that exercise could help prevent and delay dementia and improve cognitive performance during the normal ageing process.
Introducing the gaming aspect to stationary bikes encourages cognitive stimulation and motivation. One bike offers a 3D scenic tour and a race against a 'ghost rider', an avatar representing the users' last top-scoring ride (essentially allowing the user to compete against themselves).
Cognitive functions such as planning, attention, working memory and problem solving significantly improved after use of the 'exergames' when tested against a control group of participants using normal exercise bikes.
The results suggested that older people could benefit hugely from choosing virtual 'exergames' over traditional forms of exercise.
All findings have been published today in The American Journal of Preventative Medicine.
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