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COPD Patients May Benefit From Wii Fit Exercises

People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may benefit from exercising with Nintendo’s Wii Fit video game, according to a recent study out of the University of Connecticut Health Center. That is because the video game may make working out more enjoyable for COPD patients and thus encourage the type of physical activities that help people with breathing problems.

Wii Fit, which has been marketed by Nintendo as a mixture of fitness and fun, allows users to view images on the television while standing on a sensitive board that sends electronic signals to the game console. The game offers exercises similar to those available in traditional rehabilitation centers; regular exercise using the game may increase COPD patients’ overall muscle tone and improve cardiopulmonary fitness.

The study examined five volunteers with stable COPD. Before exercising with the Wii, researchers performed tests to examine their top workloads and heart rates, plus oxygen consumption levels and other respiratory factors. Patients were then asked to run in place, do some upper arm exercises, step in place and maneuver on an obstacle course. Each exercise was done for three to five minutes, and then the researchers retested the patients.

When tested by researchers after the exercise routine, patient heart rate was at 71% of the maximum predicted value, while patient oxygen consumption was at 86% of the maximum predicted value. These numbers are strong considering most exercise programs aim to achieve between 60% and 80% of values to be safe and effective.

“Our study showed that COPD patients exercised at a relatively high percent of their maximum during three to five minutes of specified Wii Fit exercises, indicating the Wii Fit may be a reasonable home-based exercise regimen for COPD patients,” Jeffrey Albores, MD, of the University of Connecticut Health Center, said in a news release.

While results of the study are encouraging, researchers believe more research is needed to determine if Wii Fit increases a patient’s willingness to perform regular workouts at home.

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