Video games can help combat depression in older people: Study

Washington: 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

"Many had a significant improvement in their mental
health-related quality of life and increased cognitive
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.