Cardiovascular Effects and Enjoyment of Exer-Gaming in Older Adults

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Blood Pressure
Physical Activity
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Background: A physically active lifestyle provides a variety of health benefits. However, physical activity may decline with age. Currently, there are 40 million older adults, representing 13.1% of the population in the United States. National surveys report that only 30% of older adults perform adequate amounts of physical activity. The lack of daily physical activity (PA) can lead to an increased risk of chronic disease. Exer-gaming (EG) has been successful in increasing PA in children and young adults in a fun and enjoyable manner, but the use of EG with older adults has not been well studied. Purpose: To quantify the cardiovascular responses, the enjoyment, and the untoward physical discomforts to a 15 minute trial of EG (Nintendo Wii Tennis) in healthy, older adults. Methods: A quasi-experimental design using a convenience sample of 34 self-reported healthy older adults from an independent living retirement community in Southeastern Pennsylvania completed the study. Serial measurements of heart rate, blood pressures (systolic, diastolic, and mean), rate-pressure product, and perceived exertion were taken at 5 minute intervals beginning at rest, standing, playing Wii tennis and post play recovery. Enjoyment was measured post Wii play and a 48 hour post questionnaire was provided. Analysis of the data included the use of descriptive statistics and general linear modeling of repeated measures. Results: 15 minutes of exercise gaming (Nintendo Wii Tennis), moderately increased heart rate (p<0.001), blood pressures (p<0.001) and perceived exertion (p<0.0001) compared to rest. This level of activity corresponded to an age predicted maximum heart rate range of 64%. No differences in cardiovascular variables occurred between genders. Beta-blockade suppressed the heart rate and rate pressure product. All subjects completed EG tennis without reporting fatigue with 86% enjoying the experience with few physical discomforts and arrhythmias. Conclusions: Nintendo Wii EG technology (tennis) induces a moderate intensity cardiovascular stress in an overall enjoyable manner among health, older adults.

Joseph R. Libonati
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