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Background: Regular daily physical activity is recognised as important in heart failure (HF) patients, but adherence to physical activity is low ( < 50%). To improve adherence to exercise in HF patients, alternative approaches to motivate and increase self-efficacy to exercise are needed. Therefore, we have studied a new phenomenon: exergames (games to improve physical exercise). The aims of the study were to assess the influence of the exergame platform Nintendo Wii on exercise capacity and daily physical activity in heart failure patients, to study factors related to exercise capacity and daily physical activity, and to assess patients’ adherence to exergaming. Methods: A 12-week pilot study with a pretest-posttest design was conducted. The intervention consisted of an instruction on how to use the Wii and 12 weeks’ access to Wii at home. The main variables tested were exercise capacity (measured with a six-minute walking test), daily physical activity (measured with an activity monitor), and time exergaming (daily self-report with a diary). Bivariate correlations were used to assess associations between symptom experience, self-efficacy, motivation, anxiety, and depression. Results: In total, 32 heart failure patients were included. More than half of the patients (53%) significantly increased their exercise capacity after 12 weeks. No significant difference was found in daily physical activity between baseline and 12 weeks. Lower NYHA class and shorter time since diagnosis were factors significantly related to the increase in exercise capacity. The daily mean time spent exergaming was 28 minutes, and having grandchildren and being male were related to more time spent exergaming. Conclusion: Exergaming has the potential to increase exercise capacity in elderly, chronically ill cardiac patients. Although the daily physical activity did not change over time, exergaming was feasible for heart failure patients and might be a rehabilitation option for patients with heart failure.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access