Psychological benefits of exercise paired with virtual reality: Outdoor exercise energizes while indoor virtual exercise relaxes

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International Stress Management Association


In the present study the authors sought to evaluate the psychological effects of exercise when paired with virtual reality. One-hundred and twelve introductory psychology students (47 male and 65 female) were randomly assigned to one of three 20-min experimental conditions including (a) taking a brisk outdoor walk around a college campus, (b) walking on a laboratory treadmill combined with a virtual reality video presentation of the same college campus walk, or (c) viewing the virtual reality walk without participating in any actual exercise. Several standardized mood and enjoyment measures were administered immediately before and after the experimental conditions. Results suggest that greater energy was experienced while walking outside whereas less energy was reported when viewing the virtual reality walk with no actual exercise. These findings were most pronounced for female participants. Both female and male participants walking in the laboratory with the virtual reality were more relaxed and experienced the least tension of the three conditions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)