Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

Wii video exergaming shown to benefit heart failure patients

Tiny Jaarsma

A ‘Late-Breaking Science in Heart Failure’ study presented this week at the European Society of Cardiology Congress by Professor Tiny Jaarsma, Professorial Fellow at the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, has found an exciting new application for exercise video games: Their use as a rehabilitation tool for heart failure patients.

Although heart failure management guidelines recommend regular exercise, for most patients it is difficult, if not impossible, to start exercising in conventional ways. Attending gyms and participating in conventional rehabilitation programs is simply not a viable option.This is where exergaming comes in. An exergame is a video game that is intended as a workout. It is a video game that involves and requires rigorous exercise. Seeing the potential health benefits of exergaming, Professor Jaarsma’s team are studying the use of Wii games as a novel intervention to improve health outcomes in cardiac patients.

With 605 heart failure patients recruited from 10 centres across 3 continents, this is the first large scale trial evaluating the effectiveness of exergaming on functional exercise capacity in patients with heart failure. Although the study is still in progress, early results have shown that after 3 months, exergaming can already improve the health of heart failure patients. Presenting these findings to the Congress, Professor Jaarsma said, “Exergaming can be used as a safe and feasible rehabilitation tool in elderly heart failure patients. We saw a significantly higher capacity for exercise in people who participated in exergaming. We also found that exergaming was effective across different continents, cultures and climates – rain, heat or snow – giving exergaming unique potential as a novel rehabilitation tool for cardiac patients.”


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