Effect of a Wii Fit® intervention on balance, muscular fitness, and bone health in middle-aged women
Sustaining a fall can be hazardous for those with low bone mass. Interventions exist to reduce fall-risk, but may not retain long-term interest. "Exergaming" has become popular in older adults as a therapy, but no research has been done on its preventative ability in non-clinical populations. The purpose was to determine the impact of 12-weeks of interactive play with the Wii Fit® on balance, muscular fitness, and bone health in peri- menopausal women. METHODS: 24 peri-menopausal-women were randomized into study groups. Balance was assessed using the Berg/FICSIT-4 and a force plate. Muscular strength was measured using the isokinetic dynamometer at 60°/180°/240°/sec and endurance was assessed using 50 repetitions at 240°/sec. Bone health was tracked using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) for the hip/lumbar spine and qualitative ultrasound (QUS) of the heel. Serum osteocalcin was assessed by enzyme immunoassay. Physical activity was quantified using the Women's Health Initiative Physical Activity Questionnaire and dietary patterns were measured using the Nurses' Health Food Frequency Questionnaire. All measures were repeated at weeks 6 and 12, except for the DXA, which was completed pre-post. RESULTS: There were no significant differences in diet and PA between groups. Wii Fit® training did not improve scores on the Berg/FICSIT-4, but improved center of pressure on the force plate for Tandem Step, Eyes Closed (p-values: 0.001-0.051). There were no significant improvements for muscular fitness at any of the angular velocities. DXA BMD of the left femoral neck improved in the intervention group (+1.15%) and decreased in the control (-1.13%), but no other sites had significant changes. Osteocalcin indicated no differences in bone turnover between groups at baseline, but the intervention group showed increased bone turnover between weeks 6 and 12. CONCLUSIONS: Findings indicate that WiiFit® training may improve balance by preserving center of pressure. QUS, DXA and osteocalcin data confirm that those in the intervention group were experiencing more bone turnover and bone formation than the control group. In summary, twelve weeks of strength /balance training with the Wii Fit® shows promise as a preventative intervention to reduce fall and fracture risk in non-clinical middle aged women who are at risk.