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Cybercycling helps older adults fight cognitive decline

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Helen Mirren shown here exercising with Wii Fit

Virtual reality exercise games, like the Wii Fit, may help older adults fight cognitive decline, researchers found.

Older adults who played a racing game by pedaling a stationary bike saw a significant boost in overall executive function on cognitive testing compared with stationary bike use alone (P=0.002), in a clinical trial by Cay Anderson-Hanley, PhD, of Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., and colleagues.

“Cybercycling” for three months in the trial reduced risk of clinical progression to mild cognitive impairment by a relative 23%, the group reported in the February issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

“Our findings give us hope that there can be an impact on improved brain health for older adults by this kind of synergistic mental and physical exercise,” Anderson-Hanley told MedPage Today. “The other thing is it’s a lot of fun.”

Participants in the trial often said they enjoyed exercise when playing the virtual reality game, she noted in an interview, which she suggested could help seniors start up and stick to a regimen.

Click here to read complete article and to see a video interview with Cay Anderson-Handley

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