Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 387–394 | Cite as

Acute effects of exergames on cognitive function of institutionalized older persons: a single-blinded, randomized and controlled pilot study

  • Renato Sobral Monteiro-JuniorEmail author
  • Luiz Felipe da Silva Figueiredo
  • Paulo de Tarso Maciel-Pinheiro
  • Erick Lohan Rodrigues Abud
  • Ana Elisa Mendes Montalvão Braga
  • Maria Lage Barca
  • Knut Engedal
  • Osvaldo José M. Nascimento
  • Andrea Camaz Deslandes
  • Jerson Laks
Original Article



Improvements on balance, gait and cognition are some of the benefits of exergames. Few studies have investigated the cognitive effects of exergames in institutionalized older persons.


To assess the acute effect of a single session of exergames on cognition of institutionalized older persons.


Nineteen institutionalized older persons were randomly allocated to Wii (WG, n = 10, 86 ± 7 year, two males) or control groups (CG, n = 9, 86 ± 5 year, one male). The WG performed six exercises with virtual reality, whereas CG performed six exercises without virtual reality. Verbal fluency test (VFT), digit span forward and digit span backward were used to evaluate semantic memory/executive function, short-term memory and work memory, respectively, before and after exergames and Δ post- to pre-session (absolute) and Δ % (relative) were calculated. Parametric (t independent test) and nonparametric (Mann–Whitney test) statistics and effect size were applied to tests for efficacy.


VFT was statistically significant within WG (−3.07, df = 9, p = 0.013). We found no statistically significant differences between the two groups (p > 0.05). Effect size between groups of Δ % (median = 21 %) showed moderate effect for WG (0.63).


Our data show moderate improvement of semantic memory/executive function due to exergames session. It is possible that cognitive brain areas are activated during exergames, increasing clinical response.


A single session of exergames showed no significant improvement in short-term memory, working memory and semantic memory/executive function. The effect size for verbal fluency was promising, and future studies on this issue should be developed.

Protocol number of Brazilian Registry of Clinical Trials



Cognition Memory Executive function Virtual reality Physical activity Mental health 



This study was supported by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FAPERJ), Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) and Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos (Finep). We would like to acknowledge Mr. Victor Guilherme Miranda de Almeida who participated in data collection.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical standard

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of Brazilian Council of Health and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Participants signed a consent term, and the study was approved by Ethics Committee in Research of the Universidade Federal Fluminense (no 458.834).

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Renato Sobral Monteiro-Junior
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Luiz Felipe da Silva Figueiredo
    • 3
    • 4
  • Paulo de Tarso Maciel-Pinheiro
    • 2
    • 3
    • 9
  • Erick Lohan Rodrigues Abud
    • 3
  • Ana Elisa Mendes Montalvão Braga
    • 3
  • Maria Lage Barca
    • 7
  • Knut Engedal
    • 8
  • Osvaldo José M. Nascimento
    • 2
  • Andrea Camaz Deslandes
    • 3
    • 5
    • 6
  • Jerson Laks
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Physical Education and Sport DepartmentState University of Montes ClarosMontes ClarosBrazil
  2. 2.Doctoral Program of Medicine (Neurology-Neuroscience)Federal Fluminense UniversityNiteróiBrazil
  3. 3.Neuroscience Laboratory of ExerciseUERJ/UFRJRio de JaneiroBrazil
  4. 4.Post-graduation Program of Translational Biomedicine – BiotransUniversidade UnigranrioDuque de CaxiasBrazil
  5. 5.Institute of PsychiatryFederal University of Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  6. 6.Institute of Physical Education and SportState University of Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  7. 7.Norwegian Advisory Unit for Ageing and HealthVestfold Hospital TrustTønsbergNorway
  8. 8.Norwegian Centre for Aging and HealthVestfold Health TrustTønsbergNorway
  9. 9.Institute of Physical EducationFederal Fluminense UniversityNiteróiBrazil

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