One of the most overlooked populations in our society and in health care are middle-aged and older adults living with a serious mental illness (SMI) despite the growing numbers of this population. Health care communities, including both inpatient and outpatient mental health programs, have a responsibility to provide care that nurtures clients’ mental as well as physical health needs. Providing accessible and engaging physical activity programs is an excellent way to provide this type of holistic care. The purpose of this article is to describe the impact of a pilot videogame-based physical activity program on walking speed in older adults with SMI.
A one-group pretest post-test pilot study was conducted with a sample of 52 older adults with SMI recruited from community-based mental health programs. Participants played an active videogame (using the Kinect for Xbox 360 game system; Microsoft, Redmond, WA) for 50-minute group sessions 3 times a week for 10 weeks. Walking speed was assessed with the timed 3-m walk from the Short Physical Performance Battery at enrollment, 5 weeks, and 10 weeks.
Participants achieved statistically significant improvement in walking speed (0.10 m/s, bias-corrected confidence interval Lower Limit (LL) 0.04, Upper Limit (UL) 0.15) over a 10-week period. This change represents a clinically and statistically ( p ≤ .05) significant improvement in walking speed. Best estimates for clinically meaningful changes in walking speed are 0.05 m/s for a small change and 0.10 m/s for a substantial change.