At Het Karmijn, a daycare center for adults with intellectual disabilities, Bike Labyrinth's interactive, virtual bike tours are a hit.
Exercise for half an hour, at least five times a week; that’s been the national Dutch Health Council’s exercise advice for years. Buurtpunt Het Karmijn, a daycare center in The Hague for adults with intellectual disabilities, has also made it a top priority, says personal care assistant Charley Dumerniet. “People with physical or intellectual disabilities are especially at risk for rapid weight gain. Getting enough exercise reduces the chance of becoming obese and increases stamina. What’s more, it also benefits your mind; exercise has a relaxing effect.” It has currently been over a year since a Bike Labyrinth exercise system was donated to the daycare center. And ever since, virtual, interactive bike trips have been in demand. Charley: “In the beginning, the hometrainer was only used by visitors who expressed a personal interest. But because it was so good at getting people to exercise, we drew up a schedule where everyone would get half an hour of exercise.” Besides, they don’t usually require much prompting. Most people love it and are excited about biking, says Charley. The first-rate experience is mainly what’s made it such a hit. Outings aren’t always a given for people who can’t leave the house independently due to a physical or intellectual disability. “The way the picture moves with you as you cycle makes it feel like you’re really out and about, which makes exercise more fun,” Charley remarks.
Bike Labyrinth gives you a chance to interactively bike through over six hundred cities and landscapes. If the user stops biking, the images on the screen pause too. And at pivotal moments, the direction is up to the user. Do we go left or right? “The imagery is gorgeous, and the interactive aspect and lifelike ambient sounds make it feel less like exercise and more like going out for a spin,” says Charley. Several people who use Het Karmijn's services have a Surinamese-Hindu background. And that makes the route through Paramaribo the most popular. “Most people here can’t read, but when they're biking, I often see them recognize certain buildings or streets. That leads to some funny conversations, right Abdul?” He glances over at the Moroccan boy who walks by smiling. He regularly takes the bike out for a ride. And his favorite route? “Obviously, the one in Marrakesh.”
The Bike Labyrinth system is in the same room as the chair exercise classes, which aim to build muscle strength and overall health. “Yesterday, there was a girl who didn't feel like participating at all. But she did enjoy cycling with me for a little while. That’s what’s great about Bike Labyrinth. It adds incentive to get people exercising, but it’s also a way to get people back into the group. That’s a real asset, in my opinion. For anyone working with people with a disability, I’d say, ‘Try it out for a while. You'll notice how folks start to improve a bunch.’