older-exerciseResearchers at Iowa State University reportedly joined with ISU Extension and Outreach to pilot the “Living well through Intergenerational Fitness and Exercise” (LIFE) program in many Iowa communities. A news release from the university notes that the program is designed to reach older adults in rural areas who are isolated and do not have access to a gym. It encompasses the use of video games to encourage fitness and activity.

Jennifer Margrett, PhD, associate professor of human development and family studies, director of the gerontology program, emphasizes that the program focuses on “whole-person wellness.”

“By socializing and doing interactive games, older adults are exercising their brains, building relationships, and so it helps in more than one way,” Margrett says.

The release notes that high school and college-age trainers led the 8-week “exergaming” program. The program blends strength-building exercises with video games, such as tennis or bowling. The trainers instruct older adults in how to use the gaming systems so they will be able to continue with the program after the initial 8 weeks.

According to the release, the researchers measured physical activity levels prior to and after the program. Nearly half of the participants aged 60 years or older initially described themselves as inactive. Researchers report that following the end of the program, 52% of the inactive adults had increased their activity levels.

Warren Franke, PhD, professor of kinesiology, collaborator for the LIFE program, developed a series of exercises intended to be fun, provide a good workout, and gradually build in intensity.

Franke adds that older adults often believe that their age slows down or eliminates the ability to engage in exercise activities. “They consider aging as being a medical condition and it’s not. They can do just about anything a young person can do. They may be slower, they may need adaptions, but they can do it,” Franke says.

The university says that thanks to the pilot program’s success, researchers launched a new website to allow the program to be implemented anywhere.

The results of the program appear in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity.

Photo Credit: Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

Source: Iowa State University