Virtual reality exercise as a coping strategy for health and wellness promotion in older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic

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The December 2019 COVID-19 outbreak in China has led to worldwide quarantine, as recommended by local governments and the World Health Organization. Particularly affected are older adults (i.e., those aged ≥ 65 years) who are at elevated risk for various adverse health outcomes, including declines in motor ability and physical activity (PA) participation, increased obesity, impaired cognition, and various psychological disorders. Thus, given the secular increases in the older adult population, novel and effective intervention strategies are necessary to improve physical activity behaviors and health in this population. Virtual reality (VR)-integrated exercise is a promising intervention strategy, which has been utilized in healthcare fields like stroke rehabilitation and psychotherapy. Therefore, the purpose of this editorial is to synthesize recent research examining the efficacy and effectiveness of VR exercise in the promotion of favorable health outcomes among the older adults. Results indicate the application of VR exercise to facilitate improved physical outcomes (e.g., enhanced motor ability, reduced obesity), cognition and psychological outcomes. VR exercise has also been observed to be an effective intervention strategy for fall prevention in this population. Future research should employ more rigorous research designs to allow for a more robust quantitative synthesis of the effect of VR exercise on the preceding outcomes to elucidate which type(s) of VR-based PA interventions are most effective in promoting improved health outcomes among older adults. Findings from this study will better inform the development of technology-savvy PA programs for wellness promotion in older adults who practice social distancing and exercise from home under the unprecedented global health crisis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1986
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Cognition
  • Fall prevention
  • Motor ability
  • Obesity
  • Psychological outcomes


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