Active Video Games for Improving Physical Performance Measures in Older People: A Meta-analysis

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Abstract

Background and Purpose:

Participation in regular physical activity is associated with better physical function in older people (>65 years); however, older people are the least active of all age groups. Exercise-based active video games (AVGs) offer an alternative to traditional exercise programs aimed at maintaining or enhancing physical performance measures in older people. This review systematically evaluated whether AVGs could improve measures of physical performance in older people. Secondary measures of safety, game appeal, and usability were also considered.

Methods:

Electronic databases were searched for randomized controlled trials published up to April 2015. Included were trials with 2 or more arms that evaluated the effect of AVGs on outcome measures of physical performance in older people.

Results:

Eighteen randomized controlled trials (n = 765) were included. Most trials limited inclusion to healthy community-dwelling older people. With the exception of 1 trial, all AVG programs were supervised. Using meta-analyses, AVGs were found to be more effective than conventional exercise (mean difference [MD], 4.33; 95% confidence intervals [CIs], 2.93-5.73) or no intervention (MD, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.17-1.29) for improving Berg Balance scores in community-dwelling older people. Active video games were also more effective than control for improving 30-second sit-to-stand scores (MD, 3.99; 95% CI, 1.92-6.05). No significant differences in Timed Up and Go scores were found when AVGs were compared with no intervention or with conventional exercise.

Conclusions:

Active video games can improve measures of mobility and balance in older people when used either on their own or as part of an exercise program. It is not yet clear whether AVGs are equally suitable for older people with significant cognitive impairments or balance or mobility limitations. Given the positive findings to date, consideration could be given to further development of age-appropriate AVGs for use by older people with balance or mobility limitations.

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