Tuesday, May 24 , 2016, 11:56 am | Partly Cloudy 64º

Valle Verde Resident Pedals Toward Better Physical, Mental Health

By Dani Row for Valle Verde |

For nearly a half-century, 79-year-old Don Chalfont has been cycling throughout Santa Barbara, commuting to and from work, and later in life simply pedaling for exercise and enjoyment.

Now, with recent advances in technology and a trend dubbed as exergaming, he can ride anywhere — virtually.

That’s because Valle Verde, the Santa Barbara senior living community in which Chalfont resides, recently purchased and introduced him and dozens of other older adults to a new Expresso S3 recumbent bike. Not only does this interactive bike offer a cardio workout, it’s also equipped with a gaming system that stimulates the brain.

At any given time, Chalfont can choose from a variety of courses and compete against fellow residents, other riders across the country in a similar age range, or a ghost of his fastest individual time.

Chalfont has spent hours in Valle Verde’s fitness center putting exergaming to the test.

“It’s the next best thing to riding on the road,” he said.

While he continues to ride his bicycle 40 to 50 miles outdoors each week, he also regularly switches gears and rides 200-plus miles each month at Valle Verde on the new recumbent bike.

Chalfont said he had no idea how much fun it would be.

According to Suzie Swenson, director of life enrichment for Valle Verde, recent studies show exergaming may improve mental health, physical performance and balance for older adults.

— Dani Row is a publicist representing Valle Verde.

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