If you have ever wondered about the health benefits of playing chess or checkers on a life size board, they could be more impactful than you think. Not only are these games challenging the cognitive abilities of the competitors to win, but they also require full body movement and are a lot of fun.
Looking at the demands of life size board games there is strategy, planning, spatial awareness, lifting, coordination, and many more skills people rely on through the lifespan. This idea was tested in May of 2017 to observe the benefits.
More than meets the eye?
A study called Effects of a Giant Exercising Board Game Intervention on Ambulatory Physical Activity Among Nursing Home Residents (2017) took a closer look at a new way to mentally and physically support the elderly population. Mouton et al focused on how this study would increase physical activity (PA), cognitive status, quality of life, motivation for PA, gait and balance, functional mobility, and isometric lower limb strength. These measures were collected immediately and 3 months following the intervention using a variety of objective mental and physical examination that are commonly used within this population
This intervention was a longitudinal study with women in their 80s. They were told this study would require strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance activities. Additionally, an exercise specialist was provided to them to explain the activities on the 4x3m board and mitigate safety concerns. Nearly two dozen women (10 in the control, 11 in the experimental group) completed this initial study and the researchers were given data to analyze.
What did the results show?
Once the data was collected and the study complete the researchers found the intervention group increased their PA as seen in steps per day from 2921 to 3358 steps. At the three-month follow-up this group increased PA further to 4083 steps/day. Energy expenditure was measured to also increase at the end of the study and three-month check in. The additional measures in quality of life, gait, balance, and functional mobility were enhanced while the control group did not have significant change in any of the metrics.
What we do with this information
Now whenever there is a giant chess board, board game, or SMARTfit equipment being used one could argue there is more benefits to playing these games than simply winning.
Making exercise and mental skills interventions fun and with the ability to engage with others in the process is what could make the difference between participation or not. Going beyond the objective measures taken in the study what are the subjective ones?
If and elderly person walks more in a day can they see more of their friends? Or if they feel more confidence in their ability to move will they engage in new activities more often? What about the autonomy and independence an older adult could maintain by being able to rely on their own body longer?
This is a preliminary study but an exciting one. If the ability to improve access to resources that make regaining physical and mental strength is available this may be a starting point for new interventions. Also, there may be a lot of people out there in parks doing these activities all along not knowing how impactful they are in their everyday lives.
SMARTfit, Inc systems combine brain fitness with body fitness improving physical, sensory, and cognitive performance creating an engaging, multisensory experience for all ages and abilities. Our SMARTfit™ exercise technology utilizes the latest in Brain Body Exercise Science to bring you a unique solution that improves mental and physical fitness. To learn more contact us at 1-800-900-8542 x 110.
Mouton, A., Gillet, N., Mouton, F., Van Kann, D., Bruyère, O., Cloes, M., & Buckinx, F. (2017). Effects of a giant exercising board game intervention on ambulatory physical activity among nursing home residents: a preliminary study. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 12, 847–858. http://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S134760