Virtual-reality exergaming improves performance during high-intensity interval training

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Purpose: To determine if: i) mean power output and enjoyment of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are enhanced by virtual-reality (VR)-exergaming (track mode) compared to standard ergometry (blank mode), ii) if mean power output of HIIT can be increased by allowing participants to race against their own performance (ghost mode) or by increasing the resistance (hard mode), without compromising exercise enjoyment.
Methods: Sixteen participants (8 males, 8 females, VO2max: 41.2 ± 10.8 ml-1 · kg-1 · min-1) completed four VR-HIIT conditions in a partially-randomised cross-over study; 1a) blank, 1b) track, 2a) ghost, and 2b) hard. VR-HIIT sessions consisted of eight 60 s high-intensity intervals at a resistance equivalent to 70% (77% for hard) maximum power output (PMAX), interspersed by 60 s recovery intervals at 12.5% PMAX, at a self-selected cadence. Expired gases were collected and VO2 measured continuously. Post-exercise questionnaires were administered to identify differences in indices related to intrinsic motivation, subjective vitality, and future exercise intentions.
Results: Enjoyment was higher for track vs. blank (difference: 0.9; 95% CI: 0.6, 1.3) with no other differences between conditions. There was no difference in mean power output for track vs. blank, however it was higher for track vs. ghost (difference: 5 Watts; CI: 3, 7), and hard vs. ghost (difference: 19 Watts; 95% CI: 15, 23).
Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that VR-exergaming is an effective intervention to increase enjoyment during a single bout of HIIT in untrained individuals. The presence of a ghost may be an effective method to increase exercise intensity of VR-HIIT.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)719-727
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Science
Issue number6
Early online date7 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Gamification
  • enjoyment
  • exercise intensity
  • intrinsic motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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