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Let the video game controller lead the way to better health

Created date

January 8th, 2016
Greenspring Wii bowlers
Greenspring Wii bowlers

Most New Year’s resolutions include getting more exercise or living a healthier life. And while there is no easy way out when it comes to good health, research shows that picking up a video game controller may be an answer to a healthier lifestyle for older Americans.

Community members at

“Wii bowling is very easy to learn,” says 86-year-old community member Helen Moot, who has been a part of the bowling group since its inception. “We all enjoy the game, and I believe it helps us feel young.”

Medical proof

A recent study published in the Therapeutic Recreation Journal looked at the effects of interactive video games, namely the Nintendo Wii, on seniors. The study found that “video games have been associated with improved attention and reaction time, improvements in knowledge acquisition and retention, and significant increases in positive emotions. Video games use skill selection and cumulative levels, paired with visual graphics to increase engagement, attention, and concentration.”

That’s a lot of power for one handheld controller! 

The study also pointed specifically to Wii bowling because it offers participants both physical and cognitive stimulation. 

Award winners

Helen is living proof of the powerful benefits of Wii bowling. This year, she was one of three Greenspring community members to bowl a perfect game in NVSO, winning her a gold medal in her age group. 

Neighbors Gene Earl and Jay Parsons joined her in the accomplishment. In 2011, Greenspring community member Joan Matteson bowled the first perfect game in NVSO Wii bowling history.

“I enjoy the fellowship most,” says Gene. “Everyone cheers a good score, and there are no critics if you score low. I had a great time and a little luck at this year’s games. I never played video games before moving to Greenspring. My family and friends are pleased that I have found something fun to do that is also good for me.”  

Also at this year’s games, community member Sara Mason won a gold medal for her performance in the 70-79 age group.

“My advice to anyone thinking about playing is to try it,” says Sara, who also did not play video games before moving to Greenspring. “Wii bowling is a great way to meet people, and it’s good exercise. I’m so glad I tried. Anyone can learn to play, no matter their age or physical limitations.”

Growing popularity

Success and camaraderie are icing on the cake to Greenspring’s committed bowlers. As research continues to show, their hard work and dedication pays off when it comes to their health. 

“Wii bowling is a game everyone can take part in, and that’s what makes it unique and fun,” says community member Ted Campbell, a former bowler who started the Wii bowling group and worked diligently to set up virtual bowling lanes. 

“When we first started, we had people in their 80s and 90s who said they couldn’t do it,” he says. “But when they tried it, and found they could do it. They loved it.”

Wii bowling is just one of the many ways Greenspring community members enjoy getting their exercise. In addition to access to two on-site fitness centers, numerous sports clubs, dance groups, and Jazzercise, the community partners with Go4Life, an exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health designed to help older adults fit exercise and physical activity into their daily life.

“Our goal is to keep our community healthy and strong,” says Wellness Manager Brad Hibbs. “Wii bowling is a great way to keep active and have fun, a key ingredient to any successful fitness program.”

To view Greenspring’s Wii bowling lanes, go to