ATS Logo Patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) apparently have very limited exercise tolerance. In an attempt to encourage physical activities among such individuals, scientists developed Wii Fit exercises that boost overall muscle tone and cardiopulmonary fitness. This exercise routine allegedly motivates COPD patients to exercise regularly and can serve as a reasonable home-based exercise regimen for them.

The study comprised five patients diagnosed with stable COPD. Before subjecting to Wii, a standard walking test was performed. The test focused on measuring each patient’s maximal workload, heart rate, oxygen consumption and respiratory factors. During the Wii Fit program, subjects were asked to perform four specified exercises, running in place, upper arm exercises, stepping in place and obstacle course. Each exercise was conducted for three to five minutes, after which heart rate, oxygen consumption and respiratory factors were again calculated.

“In order for exercise to be sustained in the long-term, the type of exercise should be agreeable to the patient,” Dr. Jeffrey Albores, MD, Internal Medicine Resident, University of Connecticut Health Center, added. “In this study, we aimed to find out the level of intensity of the Wii Fit exercises in patients with COPD.” Introduced by Nintendo in 2007, the Wii Fit includes exercise activities and games, including yoga, balance and strength training exercises, and aerobic activities. The system has been used by physiotherapists to encourage at-home exercise among patients. In this study, researchers decided to evaluate the ability of the Wii in offering COPD patients a viable and effective option for exercise in the home.”

After the exercise routine, heart rate presumably was at 71 percent of maximum predicted value and oxygen consumption was 86 percent of maximum predicted value. Maximum predicted values may depict the absolute upper limit of what a patient can achieve through exercise, and is based on health, age and other factors. The preliminary data asserts that COPD patients performed at 60 percent to 70 percent of their maximum during three to five minutes of specified Wii Fit exercises.

It was suggested that lower extremity Wii Fit exercises seemingly approximate 70-80 percent of the pair maximum as compared to upper extremity Wii Fit exercises. The exercises of upper extremity reportedly approximate 50-60 percent of their maximum. The Wii Fit supposedly delivers exercise options very much like those available in traditional rehabilitation centers. Additional investigations will be conducted to find out whether the video game system will provide COPD patients an adjunct to pulmonary rehabilitation by performing these interactive activity-promoting video game exercises in the home setting.

The study will be presented at the ATS 2011 International Conference in Denver.