close of a wii remote control

The influx of Virtual Reality sports or VR sports is a great way to get the entire family involved in a fitness regime. Virtual Reality or motion monitoring platforms such as the Wii, Kinect and PlayStation 3 are great ways to encourage our loved ones to learn and participate in sports, increase social interaction and improve quality of life.

Exergames for the Entire Family

happy asian family raising their arms and playing a game together

No matter what kind of game console you have, there are exercise games (or exergames) that are suitable for the whole family.

Nintendo Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus

Nintendo’s Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus are catered to people of all ages who are looking to get active. The game offers several modes such as strength training, balance games, and aerobics. Depending on your preference, you can select a structured workout with an in-game personal trainer, or create a fully customised regimen tailored to your senior’s needs. There are more than 60 activities offered in Wii Fit Plus and these include yoga, skiing, skateboarding, executing kung fu moves, and more.

The platform uses a balance board and remote which is a great tool for getting grandparents to improve their balance. Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus both come with single- and multi-player capabilities so the whole family can play together, creating opportunities for bonding.

Kinect Sports for Xbox 360

With up to 13 different sports such as bowling, table tennis and soccer to choose from, Kinect Sports readily turns your living room into a stadium, bowling alley or soccer pitch among other sporting locales. The game console is designed without the need for a controller, so you have your hands free and can enjoy full range of motion while you play.

Beginners can start off with low-impact games such as bowling, skiing or darts, and subsequently move on to more challenging games when fitness levels improve. A variety of fun game modes allow you to choose from solo, cooperative or competitive play.

PlayStation Move: PS3 Move

The PS3 Move is a motion control system that is compatible with the game console, PlayStation 3. PlayStation Move comes with an assortment of exergames in its starter bundle, Sports Champions. It includes activities such as beach volleyball, disc golf, archery, and table tennis, which range from light to heavy intensity for gradual improvement.

The platform also supports single- and multi-player capabilities for the whole family to participate, promoting increased social interaction and enhancing quality of life.

Related: Game Your Way to 10,000 Steps

Safety Tips

elderly asian grandmother speaking to her doctor while sitting on a couch

While playing VR games can improve fitness levels and mental health, it is important that it does not completely replace actual physical activity. Take note that seniors should get advice from their doctors before playing VR sports especially if they have existing medical conditions that may make vigorous activity dangerous. 

You should also bear in mind how your parents’ or grandparents’ ongoing medical conditions may affect their workouts and remember that they should go easy and start slow. Sudden intense exercise may take its toll on the heart; so make sure to increase activity level gradually. When they progress to high intensity workouts, it is important that they cool down after a session.

Avoid playing immediately after a full meal and take regular breaks during each session. If you or a family member experiences dizziness, motion sickness, or nausea, stop playing immediately and rest. Grandparents may also take a while to get used to using game controllers and balance boards, so ensure that the playing area is free of clutter or objects that may cause obstruction or harm during play.

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References

  1. Harvard Health Publications. (2009, Jun). Exercise and aging: Can you walk away from Father Time? [Website].
    Retrieved November 2016 from http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercise_and_aging_can_you_walk_away_from_father_time

  2. Robinson, L., Smith, M., & Segal, J. (2017, Feb). Exercise and Fitness as You Age [Website].
    Retrieved November 2016 from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/exercise-fitness/exercise-and-fitness-as-you-age.htm

  3. Schrist, D. (n.d.). How do I Start With Exercises For The Elderly And Seniors? [Website].
    Retrieved November 2016 from https://eldergym.com/exercises-for-the-elderly.html

  4. Soong, J. (2009, Sep 03). Games to Keep You Young: Are video games the new fountain of youth? [Website].
    Retrieved November 2016 from http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/features/games-to-keep-you-young#1