Microsoft, City of Los Angeles Announce Program That Increases Activity and Well-Being of Seniors

LOS ANGELES — April 4, 2012 — Microsoft Corp., the City of Los Angeles Department of Aging, Partners in Care Foundation and St. Barnabas Senior Services today unveiled an innovative program called the Exergamers Wellness Club, which combines technology with exercise, overall health monitoring and evidence-based health education from Partners in Care. Seniors in the program use Kinect for Xbox 360 to make exercise fun and to supplement other fitness activities such as tai chi. They use Microsoft HealthVault to manage and store their personal health information. Participants report improved fitness and well-being, which has motivated Microsoft and its partners to expand the program to all senior centers in the Department of Aging service area.

Seniors ages 60 to 80 erupted into dance during a surprise flash mob at the announcement and were joined by others in the crowd, including St. Barnabas CEO Rigo Saborio, a St. Barnabas cafeteria worker and a Microsoft marketing manager.

“The City of Los Angeles is excited to partner with Microsoft, the Partners in Care Foundation and St. Barnabas Senior Services to help improve the health and fitness of area seniors,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said. “The Exergamers Wellness Club allows seniors to improve their physical, mental and social well-being by participating in friendly competition, interactive gaming and tracking their health information online. It is just one way we can give back to the people who have given our city so much.”

Seniors at St. Barnabas compete in virtual bowling tournaments with contemporaries across the country. They also dance to music ranging from hip hop to disco using Kinect.

With Microsoft HealthVault, seniors monitor the benefits of their increased activity and have the option to track their personal health information, such as blood pressure and blood-glucose levels. They also have the option to share their online personal health information with family members or other caregivers they trust and use it with other health and fitness programs. HealthVault contains features that help protect the seniors’ personal information.

Plan to Extend Program to 15 More Senior Centers

To facilitate the Los Angeles expansion of the Exergamers Wellness Club, Microsoft plans to donate a Kinect, a selection of games and a one-year Xbox LIVE Gold Membership to each of the other 15 senior centers administered by the Los Angeles Department of Aging.

Microsoft also collaborated with Get Real Consulting to develop a geriatric personal health application, which enables seniors to proactively manage their health information online.

“Technology has the power to transform lives, often in surprising and unexpected ways,” said Bonnie Kearney, director of Marketing for Accessibility and Aging in Trustworthy Computing Communications at Microsoft. “Within just a few months of joining the Exergamers Wellness Club, all seniors enrolled in the program reported that they are happier, more fit and energetic, and making new friends.”

How It All Began

The Exergamers Wellness Club kicked off in May 2011 with 22 members. It later expanded and now serves 34 seniors between the ages of 64 and 94. Continued participation is evidence of the club’s value to its members.

The club is built on a foundation of health promotion, originally developed by the Partners in Care Foundation. June Simmons, president and CEO of Partners in Care, said the addition of technology was a critical enhancement to the health screenings and health-education programs that her organization delivers to Los Angeles seniors. Although the screenings and assessments conducted as part of the club are anecdotal and do not constitute extensive medical research, the partners believe the benefits of exergaming and health-management for seniors deserve further study. They hope the program results will inspire additional quantitative research.

“This program helps seniors better understand their health and see progress over time,” Simmons said. “Kinect makes exercise fun and engaging — and that’s what keeps them coming back.”

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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