Cyber cycling and similar virtual training programs can help engage seniors in exercise and prevent cognitive decline and dementia.
Physical activity and exercise have been linked to cognitive skills and capabilities in a number of studies over the years but, even though the studies show a definite correlation between the two, few older adults get the recommended dose of exercise to maintain their cognitive, mental, and physical health. Cognitive skills can deteriorate significantly with age, and lead to various types of dementia, which makes physical activity one of the vital factors in maintaining good cognitive as well as physical health, especially among the elderly population. Activities like cyber cycling, which provide additional motivation with elements like interactive 3D tours and competition, may be the more popular option, one that elicits greater participation among seniors and provides more cognitive benefits than traditional exercise.
The German fitness equipment manufacturer CyberConcept is one of the companies that develop products which can address some of the risk factors associated with dementia, such as cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
CyberCycling uses advanced multimedia technology and a virtual trainer to keep users engaged and motivated to keep racing on the virtual tours. The CyberTrainer virtual training program provides an effective cardio workout that adapts to the user’s fitness level and is suitable for all age groups and abilities. The virtual tours offer climbs and descents and the program includes sprints and recovery phases. The cycling speed is matched to the rhythm of the music, which drives users to push themselves harder. The graphics on the screen show all the relevant data, including what lies ahead, and the software makes it easy for users to create their own training programs. The program allows beginners and advanced users to cycle together in the same group, making the experience all the more fun.
In Germany, about 1.3 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Estimates suggest that the number will double by 2050. Studies conducted in recent years, however, show that the outlook may not be as bleak as it seems. Researchers at the New York Union College studied the effect of virtual fitness programs in elderly people to see if these can help promote mental health. The interventional study used a cyber cycling program to measure the neuropsychological, physiological and behavioural effects in seniors. The results revealed that virtual exercise can indeed do more to support mental capabilities in seniors than traditional exercise on a regular bicycle trainer.
The clinical trial was conducted over a period of three months. The participants were New Yorkers aged 50 and older. They were split into two groups. One group trained on traditional stationary bikes three to five times a week, while the other group completed the same program using cyber cycles with racing simulations and virtual bike tours.
The results showed a 23 percent decrease in risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) among the participants who used cyber cycles. These seniors showed better cognitive function than those in the control group as well as enhanced plasticity, all for the same effort. The results of the study indicate that simultaneous physical and cognitive exercise has greater potential to prevent the onset of cognitive decline.
Source: Fit for Fun
Cyber Cycling Virtual Training Program