Public Health Article

Effectiveness of exergames for improving mobility and balance in older adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Review Quality Rating: 8 (strong)

Citation: Pacheco TBF, de Medeiros CSP, de Oliveira VHB, Vieira ER, & de Cavalcanti FAC. (2020). Effectiveness of exergames for improving mobility and balance in older adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Systematic Reviews, 9(1), 163.

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BACKGROUND: Exergaming is a fun, engaging, and interactive form of exercising that may help overcome some of the traditional exercise barriers and help improve adherence on the part of older adults, providing therapeutic applications for balance recovery and functional mobility. The purpose of this systematic review is to summarize the effects of exergames on mobility and balance in older adults.

METHODS: The PRISMA guidelines for systematic reviews were followed. The following databases were searched from inception to August 2019: Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PEDro, CINAHL, and INSPEC. We selected randomized controlled trials that assessed the effects of exergames on balance or mobility of older adults without neurological conditions, in comparison to no intervention or health education. Two review authors independently screened the trials' titles and abstracts and identified trials for inclusion according to the eligibility criteria. An almost perfect agreement between the authors was observed with respect to interrater reliability of trial selection (kappa = 0.84; P < 0.001). We performed descriptive analysis of the quantitative data to summarize the evidence. Meta-analysis was carried out using RevMan. A random effects model was used to compute the pooled prevalence with 95% confidence intervals.

RESULTS: After screening 822 records, 12 trials comparing exergames with no intervention were included. A total of 1520 older adults participated in the studies, with a mean age of 76 ± 6 years for the experimental group and 76 ± 5 years for the control group. Quantitative synthesis showed significant improvements in balance and mobility based on the center of pressure sway (SMD = - 0.89; 95%CI = - 1.26 to - 0.51; P = 0.0001; I2 = 58%), Berg Balance Scale (MD = 2.15; 95%CI = 1.77 to 2.56; P = 0.0001; I2 = 96%), and on Timed Up and Go test (MD = - 2.48; 95%CI = - 3.83 to - 1.12; P = 0.0003; I2 = 0).

CONCLUSIONS: Exergames improved balance and mobility in older adults without neurological disorders and motivate patients to keep performing balance exercises. High quality studies with standardized assessment protocols are necessary to improve the strength of the evidence.


Behaviour Modification (e.g., provision of item/tool, incentives, goal setting), Home, Meta-analysis, Physical Activity, Seniors (60+ years)

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