Bike Labyrinth effectively engages people with dementia in physical exercise. That is what researchers from Radboud UMC say, after finishing a controlled trial comparing a Bike Labyrinth exercise programme to normal aerobic training. Both forms of training had a positive effect on psychomotor speed, and both training regimes were positively rated. But it seemed the elderly patients liked their virtual bike tours so much, they hardly ever missed out on a training day. It’s the first time Bike Labyrinth was ever tested in a clinical setting.
Virtual bike tours you say?
Bike Labyrinth’s interactive virtual bike tours are intended for people for whom a bike ride outside is no longer an option, because of illness or old age. With Bike Labyrinth they ride their bikes indoors, while an interactive video takes them outside. As simple as our setup may seem – basically a hometrainer, a tv and two controller buttons – the interactive component greatly increases the joy of exercising. Indoor cycling with Bike Labyrinth is a form of “exergaming” that has shown its value in practice for years, in both hospitals and institutions. But its effect had never been scientifically tested up until now.
Exergaming put to the test
PhD student Esther Karssemeijer from the Geriatrics Department of Radboud UMC was interested in testing the effect of exergame training on the cognitive functioning of older adults with dementia. Because of the extra cognitive component, she and her research team expected exergaming to have a more positive effect on cognitive functioning than a normal aerobics class. To investigate, they divided 115 community-dwelling people with dementia into three groups: an exergame group with Bike Labyrinth, an aerobic training group without extra cognitive stimulation, and a control group doing relaxation and flexibility exercises. All participants exercised three times a week for three months. Their cognitive functioning – psychomotor speed, executive functioning, episodic memory and working memory - was measured at the beginning and at the end of their programme.
The outcomes of the trial were quite unexpected. The researchers found a moderate though significant improvement in psychomotor speed for the aerobic and exergame groups. This may be clinically relevant, as psychomotor speed is an important predictor for functional decline. But the outcomes did not show significant effects for the other cognitive domains and the exergame group did not perform better than the aerobics class in terms of cognitive benefit. However, the Bike Labyrinth group seemed to enjoy exercising a lot better as trainers found it easier motivating them, as compared to the aerobics group, and could easily increase the duration of the training sessions. And not a single participant dropped out due to low motivation. “Scientifically proven to increase joy in exercising” The researchers concluded that exergaming with Bike Labyrinth is “a feasible and positively rated exercise method for people with dementia, resulting in higher training adherence in the exergame group compared to the aerobic group. […] Accordingly, exergaming seems to be an effective method to engage people with dementia in physical exercise.” Now, that is an outcome no one familiar with Bike Labyrinth would shock. But coming from scientists, it does feel somewhat like a compliment.
Has this article sparked your interest in our virtual bike tours? Please contact us for more information, or if you’d like to get a Bike Labyrinth demo at your institution.