Posted by: Jacqueline Beauchere, Director, Trustworthy Computing Communications  

Los Angeles-area seniors are “getting their game on,” and enjoying noticeable health and social benefits as a result. The “Exergamers Wellness Club” is an innovative public-private partnership made possible by Microsoft and other organizations. Combining online gaming, exercise, and health and wellness, the Club encourages older adults to become more socially active, and helps them keep their personal data safer online.     

Microsoft teamed with the City of Los Angeles, the Partners in Care Foundation, and St. Barnabas Senior Services to bring the program to life. Microsoft Kinect for Xbox 360 serves as the exercise platform, while Microsoft HealthVault helps store and monitor personal health information in a trusted online place.

Started in May 2011 at a senior center in Los Angeles, the Club encourages older adults to enjoy friendly competitions in dance and bowling, using the Kinect games provided. Based on the success of this single-center pilot, Microsoft and its partners yesterday announced a plan to extend the Wellness Club to all 16 senior centers within the Los Angeles Department of Aging’s service area. But not before a “flashmob” that included some of the 60-, 70- and 80-year-olds pilot participants took to the floor, showing off what they learned over the last year.

The 15 other L.A.-area centers  will receive a Kinect for Xbox 360 system, a selection of Kinect games, and a one-year subscription to Xbox Live

As with most aspects of our day-to-day living, we can all take a cue from the older generation. Whether you’re participating in multi-player online games, sharing sensitive personal health or financial data, or just communicating across the miles, it’s important to exercise the safest and most secure online habits possible. These include sharing only that level of personal information needed to accomplish a given transaction; creating so called “strong” passwords and keeping these and your user account information secret and, before entering sensitive personal data on a website, make sure the URL has an “https” (the “s” stands for secure).

You can find these and other great tips for online safety at www.microsoft.com/security. And, be sure to click the Resources tab for immediate access to our wealth of brochures, videos, factsheets, and other materials. Two important brochures that the Exergamers and others can benefit from are: Play It Safe When Gaming Online and Protecting Your Privacy Online. For regular updates as to what’s happening in the world of online safety, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.