Exercise from video games could help type 2 diabetes patients meet physical activity guidelines

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A small Swiss study finds that middle aged and older people with type 2 diabetes could meet physical activity guidelines by playing games on the Wii Fit Plus system.

Physical guidelines in the UK are for people aged 19-64 to do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of strenuous activity per week.

Researchers at the University of Basel included 12 overweight or obese people with type 2 diabetes aged in their 50s and 60s. Ten of the participants were male.

A text of average and maximum oxygen consumption during peak exertion on a treadmill was conducted. Two to three days later, researchers evaluated the same measures while participants played keywordWii Fit games for 10-minute bouts.

The Wii Fit games brought down the heart rate and resting energy expenditure of the participants into the range of moderate aerobic activity. Participants achieved over 40 per cent of the maximum oxygen consumption they reached in the treadmill test.

Senior author Dr. Arno Schmidt-Trucksass, University of Basel, told Reuters Health: “It could be even more but to start with an intensity just above 40 percent of maximal oxygen uptake is enough in order not to discourage people.”

Schmidt-Trucksass added that the 12 participants chose the exercise intensity of the games by themselves, but this intensity may be too low for young people.

Older people with type 2 diabetes should consult their doctor before making big changes to their exercise regime, but the researchers believe making exercise fun could encourage older patients to exercise more, and meet physical activity guidelines.

A limitation of the study was that only 12 participants were involved. Further research of a larger scale is required to see how many patients with type 2 diabetes could benefit from playing Wii Fit Plus games.

The findings were published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine.