Enhancing Physical Activity with Immersive Virtual Reality: A Systematic Review

Alessio Mocco*, Lucia Valmaggia, Lara Bernardi, Margherita Alfieri, Ilaria Tarricone

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The aim of this article is to review how immersive virtual reality-enhanced physical activity (IVR-PA) can be used to improve psychological, physiological, and performance outcomes linked to exercising and to compare it with non-immersive virtual reality-enhanced physical activity (nIVR-PA) and with traditional physical activity (TR-PA). We also aimed to explore the effectiveness of IVR-PA in promoting psychological well-being and engagement in physical activity. A systematic literature review (Prospero CRD42022330572) was conducted following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis guidelines. OVID (including Medline, Embase, GlobalHealth, and APA PsychInfo), Web of Science, and Sport Discuss were searched. The quality of the studies was assessed using the Effective Public Health Practice Project Quality Assessment. The search identified 26,548 titles. After screening, 20 studies (the total number of participants was 798) published between 2009 and 2023 were included in this systematic review. The quality of the studies was rated as weak (n = 9), moderate (n = 10), or strong (n = 1). Overall, the reviewed studies indicated that, compared with TR-PA and nIVR-PA, IVR-PA was associated with an increase in enjoyment of physical activity, a reduction in perceived exertion, and increased rates of self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation, and exercise intention. Furthermore, some studies showed higher muscular strength and aerobic increase after an IVR-PA intervention compared with TR-PA. The findings suggest that IVR-PA can improve psychological, physiological, and performance outcomes linked to exercising, as well as improving psychological well-being and engagement in physical activity. However, owing to the methodological limitations of the reviewed studies, further research is encouraged.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCyberpsychology Behavior And Social Networking
Early online date20 Mar 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Mar 2024

Keywords

  • health promotion
  • immersive virtual reality
  • physical activity
  • psycho-physical well-being

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