The emergence of the virtual reality exercise industry in the last few years has come with some predicted speculation about the effectiveness of Virtual Reality exercise products. This pilot study by the School of Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities decided to put it to the test.
Twelve healthy college students were recruited to participate in a study that compared the VirZoom bike (our first generation product) to a traditional stationary bike. Each participant completed two twenty minute exercise sessions- one on the VR bike and the other on the traditional stationary bike, and was allowed time to recover between workouts. The researchers chose the two games that were observed to be the most intense physical activity to include in this study: Race Car and Le Tour. The results of the study are broken into four categories: Blood pressure change, Rating of perceived exertion, Self-efficacy, and Enjoyment.
The Study notes that ‘enjoyment has been found to be an important physical activity determinant and when increased, can promote increased physical activity participation.’ Results for enjoyment measurements were that VirZoom resulted in a large measurable difference in enjoyment factor for participants.
Despite similar changes to blood pressure, indicating the workouts were equally as taxing on the body, participants reported significantly higher rating of perceived exertion during traditional stationary biking sessions compared to VR- based biking session. This indicates that you can work just as hard, or harder, in VR while not realizing it.
The final major factor was a measurement of how confident each participant felt they could learn and effectively complete the activities involved. Multiple studies have shown that a higher self-efficacy score leads to more frequent engagement in physical activity. A large measurable difference was found in the self-efficacy of the VR exercise versus the traditional stationary bike. The nature of the games designed for VZfit is such that they effectively teach you how to perform the exercises in an easy to understand and fun way.
Overall the conclusions of the study are that a commercially available VR based bike could be an effective and enjoyable motivator for physical activity in college students and could be a tool used by health professionals used to promote physical activity in all population groups.
These conclusions line up with our experience and reinforce why we developed the original VirZoom bike with the goal of making stationary biking more compelling through the power of virtual reality.
Our release of the more cost efficient VZfit sensor kit this year and integration with XRHealth were further steps towards broad use of VR to encourage healthy physical activity.
We recently hit an exciting milestone that further proves the effectiveness of Virtual Reality exercise. The VZfit Community has burned over ONE MILLION calories! That’s over 3,000 slices of pizza, 6,000 glasses of beer, or 3,000 McDonald’s cheeseburgers worth of calories burned! Keep up the good work, everyone.