Gao, Z., Lee, J. E., McDonough, D. J., & Albers, C. (2020). Virtual Reality Exercise as a Coping Strategy for Health and Wellness Promotion in Older Adults during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 9(6), 1986. MDPI AG. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jcm9061986
Older adults are at higher risk for adverse health outcomes from COVID-19 including declines in motor ability and physical activity, increased obesity, and psychological distress. Virtual reality exercises are increasingly used in healthcare interventions. This study conducted a targeted literature review to summarize the evidence for the effectiveness of virtual reality exercise on physical and psychological well-being in older adults in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Only studies with older adults are included. Findings show that virtual reality exercise can improve motor skills and muscle strength, as well as help to manage and prevent obesity through virtual reality integrated cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and physical activity exercises. Virtual reality interventions also show promise for improving visuospatial processing, memory, and other cognitive functioning. Among older adults, virtual reality exercises and CBT can improve anxiety and depression outcomes. Virtual reality interventions can be completed at home, which is advantageous during the COVID-19 pandemic when older adults may quarantine for safety reasons. Overall, findings show that virtual reality is a valuable tool for older adults and effective in promoting physical and mental health. However, many studies are limited by small sample sizes and short implementation periods, and future research is needed to further evaluate virtual reality as a treatment among older adults.