Credit to: NPR

With seniors over the age of 65 making up 617 million people worldwide and 15% of all people (over a billion) being disabled, health and happiness is an important concept that affects everyone.

News flash — we’re all human, everyone ages, many people are already disabled or will become disabled at some point in their life, and most people want to feel happy and healthy in their lives.

Not Enough Exercise

Credit to: Dreamstime.com

Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day is linked to better physical and emotional health. With a third of adults aged 50 and up and 47% of people with disabilities ages 18 to 64 not getting enough exercise, there has to be something to get them moving and enjoying life to the fullest.

Seniors and people with disabilities are sometimes limited to what exercises they can do. Adaptive equipment like a wheelchair, walker, or cane are supposed to improve mobility but can become a hindrance to exercise for many. People with physical limitations may not even be able to stand, walk, or leave their bed due to medical reasons.

Credit to: CBS

So what’s the solution? How do we get seniors and people who are disabled more access to activity and increase their wellbeing? The answer is virtual reality. VR allows anyone to put on a headset, pick a game that’s standing or sitting, and enjoy the combined benefits of physical and mental activity.

VR Cardio

Getting cardio doesn’t have to mean going for a run or jog anymore, you can still get a workout and reap all the heart-healthy benefits from playing a VR game.

Credit to: Rec Room via Against Gravity

Rec Room is best played with a group of people because you’ll be playing games like paintball. The game won’t be too intense, you’re free to sit or stand while playing, and it will feel like the exercise equivalent to walking.

Credit to: Music Inside: A VR Rhythm Game via Reality Reflection

There’s also a faster paced drumming VR game called Music Inside: A VR Rhythm Game that can be played standing or sitting as you use your upper body to hit the drum to the beat and your core and lower body to stabilize.

There are many more VR games on the VR Fitness Insider game page that will get your heart pumping. Take a look!

VR Strength Training 

Having strong muscles can help improve balance, strength, can reduce bone fractures, and can even improve independence during activities over time.

Fruit Ninja is a great standing game that has you using the VR controllers as a machete to slice and dice fruit. You’ll be using your upper body to reach and slice fruit, your mid-body to reach towards different directions, and your lower body to position your body and to move frequently. This VR game is rated by the VR Health Institute as being an equal workout compared to using an elliptical.

Please note: If you have a strong upper body or lower body and want a challenge you can always add hand weights or ankle weights to boost the difficulty level. Please consult a trainer or doctor before adding weights to your exercise plan.

VR Flexibility for Mind and Body

Exercising your body while also using your mind can help promote happiness, lower stress, improve memory, and flexible thinking skills.

Everyone experiences stress, so playing games like Wise Mind is a great way for everyone to unwind from a long day or start the day off with a clear and calm mind. Wise Mind has you practicing Tai Chi, balancing stones, and gives you mindfulness and meditation exercises to choose from. Tai Chi is great for a low impact and low-stress exercise that can be done seated or standing. Balancing stones is great for hand-eye coordination practice as well as promoting patience and understanding with yourself and others. While the meditation and mindfulness activities will keep your mind clear and resilient.

Stretching muscles helps to prevent muscle atrophy, improve range of motion and flexibility, reduces injuries, and increases pain relief.

VR apps like Yoga Joint VR Experience are great for getting a slow to advanced paced stretch while also building muscle strength and tone. Yoga involves you using your own strength to hold poses using your own body weight. Many yoga poses can be modified to suit needs based on injuries and physical limitations. Some yoga stretches can even be modified while sitting in a chair or wheelchair.

VR Helps Everyone Get Healthy

Credit to: Abilitynet.org.uk

Getting exercise, stretching, and being mindful using VR will improve your physical health but it will also make you feel happier overall. Getting VR headsets and games in the hands of the people who will benefit from using it the most is essential. Helping the disabled and the elderly gain access to VR helps them break through old limitations that used to hold them back.

Credit to: Pixabay.com

Using VR to exercise and experience new ideas, environments, and people drastically improves the quality of people’s lives. So let’s do something about it — tell your neighbors, friends, coworkers, and family members about the physical and mental health benefits of VR.

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