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Games You Should Play to Control Type 2 Diabetes

Exercise video games for type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a serious disease; just ask anyone who has it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it. So which games do researchers say you should play to help control type 2 diabetes?

Best Exercise for Type 2 Diabetes May Be a Surprise

How about exercise video games? The need to participate in regular physical activity is a basic and essential part of good diabetes management, but a significant problem is that many people don’t enjoy exercise so they don’t do it.

However, what if there’s a fun exercise option that helps people with diabetes better control their blood glucose? A team of German researchers explored that possibility when they enlisted 220 individuals aged 50 to 70 who had type 2 diabetes.

During the 12-week study, 120 participants used the Wii Fit Plus (Nintendo) exercise video games as their main form of physical activity. The remaining 100 individuals followed routine care.

What the researchers found
Compared with the control group, participants in the Wii group

  • Maintained better control of their glucose
  • Showed a decline in their hemoglobin A1c levels
  • Lost weight
  • Had a better quality of life
  • Showed a reduction in the number of individuals who experienced depression

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Read about Wii exercise games and depression

According to the study’s senior author, Professor Stephan Martin of the West German Centre for Diabetes and Health, use of exercise video games “may potentially be used in a home setting as a tool to reduce inactive behavior in people with type 2 diabetes.”

Diabetics Who Exercise Live Much Longer

The results of this study are in contrast to a study from 2009, in which the investigators found that after three months, use of Wii Fit did not lead to a significant improvement in daily physical activity, balance, or body composition for families as a whole. However, a 2009 study sponsored by Nintendo stated that among adults, Wii Fit could increase the number of calories burned as much as doing moderately intense exercise.

Read about video games for adults

The authors of this latest study noted that it may be a good idea to develop exercise games especially for people who have type 2 diabetes as a way to encourage more activity. If you have type 2 diabetes and find it difficult to exercise, do you think exercise video games would improve your activity level?

Study Reference
Kempf K et al. Autonomous exercise game use improves metabolic control and quality of life in type 2 diabetes patients—a randomized controlled trial. BMC Endocrine Disorders 2013 Dec 10

Image: Stephen Cummins/Flickr