COPD patients benefit from Wii Fit™

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Wii Fit™ for COPD patients.
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Wii Fit™ exercises could help COPD patients, suggests American Thoracic Society researchers.

Scientists from Connecticut found five minutes of specific Wii Fit™exercises, performed at home, allowed patients with COPD to exercise vigorously enough to improve muscle tone and cardiopulmonary fitness.

The finding may mean patients with lung disease would be more willing to exercise, something that is not easy for those with the disease.

Jeffrey Albores, MD, Internal Medicine Resident, University of Connecticut Health Center says it’s hard to motivate patients with COPD to exercise because of poor activity and exercise tolerance.

"In order for exercise to be sustained in the long-term, the type of exercise should be agreeable to the patient," Dr. Albores said. "In this study, we aimed to find out the level of intensity of the Wii Fit™ exercises in patients with COPD."

Exercises with Wii could further pulmonary rehabilitation

For the study, five patients with COPD were studied. The researchers measured maximum heart rate and workload, oxygen consumption and respiratory parameters during a walking test.

The same measurements were obtained after the patients participated in Wii games that included running in place, upper arm exercises, stepping in place and obstacle course for three to five minutes.

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After the Wii Fit™ exercises, heart rate and oxygen consumption were 71 percent and 86 percent of maximum respectively. Exercise programs are designed to achieve 60 to 80 percent of the maximum values.

Albores says the finding reflects “a relatively high percent” of maximum workload for exercise. "This is comparable to what we would expect to see with relatively low-intensity classroom calisthenics."

The study also showed lower extremity workouts from Wii games is more strenuous than upper. COPD patients achieved 70-80 percent of the maximum for heart rate and oxygen consumption for lower extremities and 50 to 60 percent for lower extremities.

"The video game system will provide COPD patients an adjunct to pulmonary rehabilitation by performing these interactive activity-promoting video game exercises in the home setting," Dr. Albores noted

He says more studies can confirm safety, regular adherence and effectiveness of the Wii Fit™ exercises in COPD patients. Whether patients with the lung disease would be more willing to perform exercises at home should also be evaluated.

American Thoracic Society

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