A new system cleverly pairs physical activity with mental exercise in a safe, enjoyable experience for elders. Especially considered helpful to seniors suffering from dementia, the system is called BikeAround and joins the use of a stationary bicycle with Google Street View to stimulate the memory and pump up the heart and muscles.
Here’s how it works: The patient sits on a stationary bicycle while viewing on a screen a road they have visited sometime in the past. As the person pedals, he sees the road he is on pass by as if he is actually riding there. Researchers have seen that patients enjoying this experience feel transported back to that time and place when they were actually there, stimulating their memory, and giving them a sense of familiarity that is often lacking in their lives.
According to one health worker who has been using the system with patients, the combination of the mental and physical activities together with the site of a familiar place is highly beneficial:
“Scientists think this kind of pairing produces dopamine in the brain and has the potential to affect memory management in a profound way.”
BikeAround also contributes to the patient’s physical well-being, burning calories, safely increasing the heart rate and improving spatial awareness.