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Video games can help combat depression in older people: Study

Regular video game playing can help combat depression in older people effectively,a new research has claimed.

Written by Agencies | Washington |
February 26, 2010 1:44:53 pm

Regular video game playing can help combat depression in older people effectively,a new research has claimed.

Scientists at the University of California,San Diego School of Medicine,found that use of “exergames” – video games that combine game play with exercise – significantly improve mood and mental health-related quality of life in older people suffering from subsyndromal depression (SSD).

“SSD is much more common than major depression in 60-plus people and is associated with substantial suffering,functional disability,and increased use of costly medical services,” said Dilip V Jeste,lead author of the study that appeared in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

“Depression predicts non-adherence to physical activity,and that is a key barrier to most exercise programmes,” Jeste said,adding “adults with depression may be at particular risk for diminished enjoyment of physical activity and therefore,more likely to stop exercise programmes prematurely.”

In the study,19 participants with SSD ranging in age from 63 to 94 played an exergame on the Nintendo Wii video game system during 35-minute sessions,three times a week.

The participants reported high satisfaction and rated the exergames on various attributes including enjoyment,mental effort,and physical limitations.

“The study suggests encouraging results from the use of the exergames as more than one-third of the participants had a 50 per cent or greater reduction of depressive symptoms,” they said.

“Many had a significant improvement in their mental health-related quality of life and increased cognitive stimulation”

Jeste said feedback revealed some participants started the study feeling nervous about how they would perform in the exergames and the technical aspects of game play.

However,by the end of the study,most participants reported that learning and playing the video games was satisfying and enjoyable.

“The participants thought the exergames were fun,they felt challenged to do better and saw progress in their game play,” Jeste said.

“Having a high level of enjoyment and satisfaction,and a choice among activities,exergames may lead to sustained exercise in older adults.”

The scientists,however stressed that exergames carry potential risks of injury,and should be practiced with appropriate care.

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