Fit Islands: Designing a Multifunctional Virtual Urban Community to Promote Healthy Aging for Chinese Older Adults

Zixin Shen, Rongbo Hu, Dong Wan, Thomas Bock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Within the context of an aging global population, the demographic structure of emerging economies is undergoing a dramatic transformation. Emerging economies have a large population base and rapid economic development, but they are ill-prepared to deal with population aging. Limited resources force many older adults to face health issues such as chronic diseases and loss of physical independence, exacerbating the burden of traditional family and societal elderly care. Uncontrollable events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and regional conflicts have exacerbated the plight of older adults. Improving the quality of life and health of older adults has become a development priority in emerging economies in the face of a rapidly aging population. The development of smart cities has brought with it many available digital technologies, and the consequent development of smart aging offers endless possibilities for improving the quality of life and health of older people, making cities more inclusive of older people. Researchers from developed economies have attempted to address the health issues of older adults through a technology that combines physical exercise and digital technology called Exergame. However, existing projects are not suitable for older adults in emerging economies due to differences in national conditions. The aim of this project is therefore to propose a universal approach to designing a health-promoting Exergame system in the format of a virtual urban community to help emerging economies cope with aging populations, making cities more inclusive. To verify the feasibility of this approach, the authors designed an expandable Exergame called “Fit Islands”, using China as a case study. Based on the initial demonstration, the authors conducted functional tests. The result is that Fit Islands can meet the development objective of motivating Chinese older people to increase their physical activity, providing initial evidence of the feasibility of an Exergame system to promote healthy aging in emerging economies. The application of Fit Islands demonstrates the feasibility of the universal Exergame development method, which can, in principle, provide comprehensive and practical guidance for other countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-232
Number of pages25
JournalSmart Cities
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Exergame
  • aging in China
  • digital technology
  • health
  • inclusive smart cities
  • population aging
  • smart aging


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