VR can improve performance during exercise

Using Virtual Reality (VR) headsets while exercising can reduce pain and increase how long someone can sustain an activity, according to new research from the School of Engineering and Digital Arts (EDA), University of Kent.

Photo
Using VR headsets while exercising can reduce pain and increase how long someone can sustain an activity.

The research, led by PhD candidate Maria Matsangidou from EDA, set out to determine how using VR while exercising could affect performance by measuring a raft of criteria: heart rate, including pain intensity, perceived exhaustion, time to exhaustion and private body consciousness.

To do this they monitored 80 individuals performing an isometric bicep curl set at 20% of the maximum weight they could lift, which they were then asked to hold for as long as possible. Half of the group acted as a control group who did the lift and hold inside a room that had a chair, a table and yoga mat on the floor.

The VR group were placed in the same room with the same items. They then put on a VR headset and saw the same environment, including a visual representation of an arm and the weight (see image below). They then carried out the same lift and hold as the non-VR group. The results showed a clear reduction in perception of pain and effort when using VR technology. The data showed that after a minute the VR group had reported a pain intensity that was 10% lower than the non-VR group. Furthermore the time to exhaustion for the VR group was around two minutes longer than those doing conventional exercise. The VR group also showed a lower heart rate of three beats per minute than the non-VR group.

Photo
VR representation of fitness area
Source: University of Kent

Results from the study also showed no significant effect of private body consciousness on the positive impact of VR. Private body consciousness is the subjective awareness each of us has to bodily sensations. Previous research has shown that individuals who have a high private body consciousness tend to better understand their body and as a result perceive higher pain when exercising. However, the study’s findings revealed that VR was effective in reducing perceived pain and that private body consciousness did not lessen this effect.

As such, the improvements shown by the VR group suggest that it could be a possible way to encourage less active people to exercise by reducing the perceived pain that exercise can cause and improving performance, regardless of private body consciousness. “It is clear from the data gathered that the use of VR technology can improve performance during exercise on a number of criteria. This could have major implications for exercise regimes for everyone, from occasional gym users to professional athletes,” said Matsangidou.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related articles

Virtual reality has potential for CPR training

Virtual reality has potential for CPR training

Cardiologists performed a research project during a large music festival called Lowlands, in the Netherlands in August 2019.

Different affections of VR

Different affections of VR

While very little is known on the effects of immersive VR on adults, there is next to no knowledge on the impact of such systems on the sensorimotor abilities of young children.

Virtual reality used in creative arts therapies

Virtual reality used in creative arts therapies

Virtual reality is an emerging as a tool in creative arts therapies. Now, researchers examined the differences in prefrontal cortex activation between two distinct drawing tasks in VR.

Machine learning improves when social factors are included

Machine learning improves when social factors are included

Machine learning can accurately predict cardiovascular disease and guide treatment — but models that incorporate social determinants of health better capture risk and outcomes for diverse groups.

Cybersickness: research into VR-induced discomfort

Cybersickness: research into VR-induced discomfort

Researchers recorded VR users' brain activity using electroencephalography (EEG) to better understand and work toward solutions to prevent cybersickness.

Beautiful virtual reality setting could reduce pain

Beautiful virtual reality setting could reduce pain

Being immersed in a stunning 'virtual' Icelandic landscape can reduce the pain caused by uncomfortable medical procedures.

Robot-assisted surgery: Putting the reality in VR

Robot-assisted surgery: Putting the reality in VR

Cardiac surgeons may be able to better plan operations and improve their surgical field view with the help of a robot.

Virtual reality warps sense of time

Virtual reality warps sense of time

A new study shows how time perception is affected by playing games in virtual reality versus on conventional monitors.

VR could help improve balance in older people

VR could help improve balance in older people

Researchers are investigating how virtual reality technology could help improve balance and prevent falls.

Popular articles

Subscribe to Newsletter