As older persons we want to do more. Our years of working hard to raise a family are now behind us. Now is our time to enjoy our golden years and pursue our postponed dreams. We have the time. However, we must also have the energy to succeed in this new season of our lives. In this article we will examine how to improve our health and energy through different forms of physical exercise programs for seniors. Have you heard of Exergames. Get ready to do more !
WHAT THE SCIENTISTS TELL US
Scientific papers on the health of seniors tell us that seniors commonly lack physical fitness and often suffer from mobility problems.( No big news there). Furthermore, seniors often lack motivation for physical activities and may experience a decline in cognitive skills.  In addition, significant life events, such as loss of a spouse, retirement, loss of social contacts, can lead to psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety .
The scientists do not paint a pretty picture of our condition as older persons. However, scientists also tell us how to improve our health. Physical activity is key, it can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve brain plasticity and increase feelings of well-being. Different studies examine various forms of physical exercise for seniors such as :
– Flexibility exercises ( stretching, tai-chi )
– Progressive resistance training. 
– Core exercises
– Aerobic exercises ( walking, jogging, swimming )
– Balance exercises
Regular exercise programs are recommended. The choice of exercise is really based on personal preference, and any doctor imposed restrictions. Furthermore, ongoing, moderate-intensity physical exercise should be considered as a prescription for lowering cognitive risks and slowing cognitive decline across all ages.
A NEW APPROACH TO EXERCISING – EXERGAMES –
We know that we should exercise more. But the key is to get motivated. To achieve this motivation recently video games have been developed in which the players have to perform physical exercises to control the game. This category of games is called Exergames . These games utilize remote controls and motion sensors. Although these games are for all ages, some are specifically designed for the elderly. The most popular games in this category are the Nintendo Wii games such as the Wii Fit Balance Board and the Wii Sports Games with a hand held controller. Another popular game is the Touchtown’s Dancetown Fitness System using a dance mat. A recent balance board system for mind and body that is becoming popular is 60uP.It is available on Amazon.
The most advanced games include persuasion technology, designed to encourage its use. Some games also provide social interaction between players as an added benefit. This is a developing field that promises further benefits to the elderly population.
We all need to maximize our health and energy through regular exercise. Some of us may benefit from trying out some Exergames now coming to the market. Other options are DVD videos and online exercise programs for seniors. I personally use the stretching exercises shown in a DVD set called “Aging Backwards” that was offered on PBS. You may find more details on this program by clicking here . There are many exercise programs offered online. Choose one that meets your needs, but do not delay. Physical exercise is very important for all ages, but especially for older persons like us who want to remain active and be ready for more.
. “A game like interface for training seniors’ dynamic balance and coordination”. A.S.Billis et al. ,IFMBE Proceedings,2010,Volume 29, Part 4, 691-694
. “Effects of group exercise on cognitive functioning and mood of older women”. Philippa Williams and Stephen R.Lord,Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute, Sydney. (Aust NZJ Public Health 1997;21:45-52)
. “A comparison of community-based resistance exercise and flexibility exercise for seniors”. Barrett C and Smerdely P (2002) (Australian Journal of Physiotherapy 48: 215-219 )
. “Physical Exercise as a Preventive or Disease-Modifying Treatment of Dementia and Brain Aging”. J. Eric Ahlskog et al. Mayo Clinic Proc. 2011;876(9): 876-884 . www.mayoclinicproceedings.com
. “Exergames for elderly”. Ellen Brox et al. Northern Research Institute, Tromso,Norway. Juan Emilio Gonzalez Hernandez, University of Seville, Spain.