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The study found that virtual reality can provide a method of exercise that results in less cognitive effort

Playing sports and playing video games are often seen as polar opposite activities, but virtual exercise has become increasingly popular in recent years. Study published in Frontiers in Rehabilitation Sciences He explains that virtual exercise may be particularly beneficial to one’s health by causing people to expend more energy than they think they are while participating in it.

Most Americans don’t engage in the recommended amount of exercise, which can be harmful to their health. Numerous factors can contribute to physical inactivity, including the prevalence of television and video games, which typically require an individual to sit in one place without moving.

An alternative to this that has gained popularity in recent years is virtual exercise, or video games in which players’ movements make things happen in the game, turning video games from a passive activity into an active one. This has positive effects on fitness and health for people who don’t like the typical gym experience. This study seeks to explore how gamers perceive their own effort when playing a virtual reality game.

Trenton Stewart and colleagues used 32 undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 39 as a sample for this study. 16 participants were male and 16 were female. Participants were excluded if they had a history of motion sickness, illness from virtual reality, or medications affecting metabolic functions. Participants completed three 45-minute visits to participate in this study.

Participants first visited the exercise physiology laboratory, were informed of the procedures, and completed a measurement of their playing video games and enjoying conventional exercise. Height, weight and body composition were recorded. Next, the participants completed a self-exercise test that induced cardiorespiratory stress, followed by learning about the technology and equipment they would use.

Participants completed 5-minute sessions with each of the three games (Fruit Ninja VR, Beat Saber, and Holopoint) and then made their subsequent appointments. Two experimental sessions were conducted in different exercise locations (one in the gym, one in the lab) and were required to be at least 24 hours apart.

Participants played 10 minutes of each game with 5 minutes of rest between them. Rate their enjoyment and perceived effort. Oxygen consumption and heart rate were measured.

The results showed that the actual physical exertion levels were higher than the participants’ perceived levels of exertion. This means that while playing video games, the participants reduced the amount of exercise they were doing, which had very positive effects on the benefits of this type of game on the physical health of the individual.

This effect was seen for all three games played. Between the laboratory setting and the gym environment, participants reported higher levels of perceived exertion in the gym, but similar levels of enjoyment in both locations. Participants reported that the most physically intense game was the most enjoyable. Exercise intensity is usually negatively associated with pleasure, so this shows another potential benefit of this form of exercise.

This study made strides in understanding how virtual exercise could be a potential tool for encouraging physical activity in a fun way. Despite this, there are limitations to note. One such limitation is that participants are wired to use machines may limit their movement and thus their levels of physical activity.

In addition, the study only used college students in California and had a small sample size; Future research could expand the diversity of the participant pool to enhance generalizability.

The study, “Actual versus perceived exertion during active VR gaming,” was written by Trenton Stewart, Kirsten Villanova, Amanda Han, Julissa Ortiz-Dilatore, Chandler Wolf, Randy Nguyen, and Nicole D. Poulter, Marialise Kern, and James R. Bagley.