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Study: Exergaming Offsets Depression in Older Adults

A pilot study at the Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging has found that exergames produce mood and mental health benefits among older adults exhibiting symptoms of subsyndromal depression.
A pilot study at the Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine has found that exergames produce mood and mental health benefits among older adults exhibiting symptoms of subsyndromal depression (SSD). Science Daily notes that SSD, a more common affliction than other forms of depression among the elderly, can be improved with physical activity. As many forms of physical activity are not recommended for older adults, exergaming emerges as a low-impact alternative. The study tracked 19 patients diagnosed with SSD, ranging in age from 63 to 94. Participants each played a minigame of their choosing in the Nintendo Wii pack-in title Wii Sports in 35-minute sessions, three times a week. Lead researcher Dr. Dilip V. Jeste published the results of the study in the March issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. "The study suggests encouraging results from the use of the exergames," Jeste said. "More than one-third of the participants had a 50-percent or greater reduction of depressive symptoms. Many had a significant improvement in their mental health-related quality of life and increased cognitive stimulation." Jeste continues: "The participants thought the exergames were fun, they felt challenged to do better and saw progress in their game play. Having a high level of enjoyment and satisfaction, and a choice among activities, exergames may lead to sustained exercise in older adults." Funding for the study was provided in part by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the UCSD Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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