Virtual reality as means to improve physical fitness of individuals at a severe level of intellectual and developmental disability

Res Dev Disabil. 2010 Jul-Aug;31(4):869-74. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2010.01.010. Epub 2010 Mar 25.


Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are in need of effective and motivating physical fitness training programs. The aim was to test the effectiveness of a virtual reality (VR)-based exercise program in improving the physical fitness of adults with severe IDD when implemented by on-site caregivers. A research group (N=20; mean age+/-standard deviation=47.9+/-8.6 years; severe IDD level) was matched for age, IDD level and functional abilities with a comparison group (N=24, mean age=46.2+/-9.3 years; severe IDD level). An 8-week fitness program consisting of 2-3 30-min sessions per week included game-like exercises provided by the IREX/GX video capture VR system. Changes in physical fitness were monitored by changes in heart rate at rest. A significant (P<0.005) reduction in heart rate was demonstrated for the research group. No change in heart rate was monitored in the comparison group. Despite statistically significant improvements in heart rate, the results are not strong enough functionally to claim that this program improved physical fitness of individuals with severe intellectual disability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Developmental Disabilities / rehabilitation*
  • Exercise*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • User-Computer Interface*