Mervin Jijika, Jonathan J. Ruiz-Ramie, Kenneth S. Anderson, Daniel R. Greene. Augusta University, Augusta, GA.

BACKGROUND: Recent advancements have enabled technology to be more accessible to the public. Gaming systems, specifically, have been developed to become more immersive to the user, which has led to lower levels of daily physical activity. Virtual reality has positioned itself not only to be used as a gaming system, but also as a form of exercise. PURPOSE: To compare the physiological responses of a virtual reality exercise bout to that of traditional aerobic exercise. METHODS: Participants [N= 14, 7 females; age (M ± SD); 27.1 ± 7.7 yrs; BMI (M ± SD); 27.3 ± 5.9] completed two exercise bouts; a virtual reality boxing session (VR) and a moderate-intensity cardio exercise session (MICE). During VR, participants completed 6 bouts of exercise (3 min each) with 30 sec rest between and were instructed to complete the workout without any other manipulation. Throughout MICE, heart rate (HR) and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were monitored, and adjustments were made to speed and/or grade to maintain moderate intensity. Each session had a total time of 30 minutes, with 5-minute warm-ups and 5-minute cool-downs. HR and Kcal data were collected via Polar HR monitoring device. HR and RPE were collected before (Pre), every 3 minutes during, and immediately after (Post0) each condition. RESULTS: Both exercise conditions resulted in elevated RPE and HR during exercise. RPE and HR were significantly increased immediately after the warm-up and remained elevated for the duration of exercise in both conditions [all P’s < .001]. Further, the average RPE during VR was significantly greater relative to RPE during MICE [P = .04; Cohen’s d = 0.49]. However, average HR during exercise was not different between conditions [P = .09]. Finally, an estimation of Kcal’s indicated that participants burned significantly more energy during VR relative to MICE [Mdiff ± SD); 101.0 ± 19.9; P < .001; Cohen’s d = 1.83]. CONCLUSION: Both exercise conditions resulted in significantly elevated RPE and HR. While RPE was significantly greater during VR, that is most likely due to RPE being collected after each boxing bout and not accounting for the 30 rest. HR data did account for this and was not different between condition. Interestingly, Kcal estimates were significantly greater during VR. Overall, the results emphasize the physiological aspects of VR exercise and provide evidence to use VR as an alternative to cardio based workouts.

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