Caregivers who need to spend a significant amount of time caring for family members who are elderly, ill or living with disability often neglect their own health. It’s been demonstrated that regular exercise can improve a person’s health and relieve stress, depression and fatigue, but often caregivers don’t feel comfortable leaving homebound loved ones alone so they can hit the gym or the running track.
“Caregivers may feel guilty about going out, and that can increase their stress,” says Dr. Daniel Rosney, assistant professor of instruction in kinesiology at Temple University College of Public Health. In earlier research, Dr. Rosney established that caregivers’ recreational physical activity is decreased due to their caregiving duties.
He saw that clinicians were starting to get patients undergoing physical rehabilitation to use home videogame systems that can recognize body movements. Therapy using videogame systems to encourage physical movement became widespread enough to earn the name “exergaming.”
In a study whose first results were published in Health Science Journal, Drs. Rosney and Peter Horvath of the State University of New York found improvement in cardiovascular endurance, balance, and lower extremity functional fitness among a group of sedentary adults with similar age, gender and minority composition as the caregiving population.
The next phase of Dr. Rosney’s research, in a paper soon to be published, looks more specifically at the stress-mitigation potential of the exergaming intervention. Throughout the testing period, participants completed surveys to self-report their feelings of stress and burden. Separately, their levels of cortisol production, a biomarker of stress, were measured via saliva and hair samples.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on December 06