The last few years have seen a revolution in the standing of the video game. Active-gaming, or ‘Exergaming’ as it is variously known, is a phenomenon, which has been gradually sweeping the world, and changing our perceptions of video games. Historically – or at least for the last thirty years or so – video games have had a pretty poor press when it comes to ‘health benefits’. Now it seems that the tables have been turned, and instead of being viewed as the quickest route to weight gain and an early death, they are now being hailed by organisations around the world as potentially having positive effects on our lifestyle.
Video games have also been synonomous to many with the young, techy, internet generation. Now it seems that a whole new generation is getting involved and reaping additional benefits. Studies have shown that the benefits of balance and coordination have a massive impact on the elderly. Better balance has been shown to help prevent falls and generally keep fit and active. Nintendo Wii is becoming increasingly popular amongst the elderly.
Unlike some of those fancy gadgets their lazy grandchildren had in the past, Wii is positively viewed by the older generations. It’s user friendly and easy to understand. Also gone are the days when a video game was only for one or at best two users. Wii allows for a number of players, and even those who aren’t playing get involved in a spectator role.
Wii has proven health benefits – even the UK’s National Health Service are endorsing it – and is an ideal tool for the elderly to keep fit and exercise. The games include the ever popular bowling, golf and tennis, and for those who are not able to play the real games anymore, they offer a chance to take part in a favourite sport.
Many older users believe that playing Wii keeps their minds sharper and studies that have been conducted around the world would agree. Dr Alison Stewart of the University of Aberdeen in the UK has been using the Wii balance board to help improve mobility and balance in older people. Stewart emphasises that in terms of cost the Wii Balance Board is far cheaper than traditional clinic tools used for these purposes and additionally states that in the fact that Wii is highly enjoyable means it enjoys a better ‘compliance’ rate.
As life-expectancy has grown, many have concerns about quality of life and try out a more active and healthier lifestyle. In its own small way, Nintendo Wii is adding to the quality of life that elder people can now enjoy.