The competitive spirit is high when the “Village Woods King Pins” face off against their rivals, the “Park Place Pinheads” for their regular bowling tournament. But there are no brightly-colored bowling shoes, no hefty bowling balls, not even a pin in sight. Instead, these seniors compete using the interactive Nintendo Wii® video gaming system. But even though the game is virtual, the benefits – and the competition – are completely real.
Interactive video games like Wii® bowling offer a good alternative for older individuals who want to stay physically active, but can’t compete in real sports like they used to. The Wii® bowling game mimics the actual movements a player would make. But instead of swinging a heavy bowling ball, players line up their shot and swing their arms in the same motion while holding down a button on a motion-capturing controller, releasing the button when they are ready to release the ball. The bowler’s motions control the action of their computer-generated counterpart on the large TV screen.
Getting up and moving can provide health benefits for otherwise sedentary seniors. Researcher Elizabeth Orsega-Smith, PhD, reported to the American College of Sports Medicine that bowling on the Wii® burned between 20 to 176 calories in 30 minutes. Other health benefits may include increased hand-eye coordination, balance and muscle strength.
While Wii® bowling can be enjoyed as a single-player game, it’s often more fun to play with friends. That’s why Providence communities Village Woods and Park Place of St. John created their own virtual league. Since 2017, the two teams come together for monthly competitions, alternating visits between the two campuses in Crete, IL and St. John, IN. Dressed in their custom, color-coordinated shirts, bowlers cheer each other on as the pins scatter.
“Our bowling team loves taking the bus over to Park Place for our tournaments,” says Elyssia Roozeboom, Life Enrichment Director at Village Woods. “It’s so much fun to get to know the other residents and build new friendships.”
One committed member of the Village Woods team is Ron, who is known for his constantly positive attitude. When Ron was asked why he loves coming to Wii bowling, he remarked, “Bowling is a lot of fun. By being a part of the team, I get to meet new people and make new friends! All the activities here give us a chance to interact with other residents and have a good time together.”