Adaptive High-Intensity Exergaming: The More Enjoyable Alternative to Conventional Training Approaches Despite Working Harder

Games Health J. 2021 Dec;10(6):400-407. doi: 10.1089/g4h.2021.0014. Epub 2021 Sep 23.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess psychological and physiological responses to an exergaming session in the ExerCube (EX) and compare them with the responses of a moderate endurance run (ER). Materials and Methods: Twenty-eight healthy adults (13 women) aged 24.8 ± 3.8 years took part in this study. The first test day, participants performed a graded exercise test on a treadmill to determine maximal heart rate (HR) and lactate levels. The following test days 2 and 3, the participants completed an EX session and an ER on a treadmill in a randomized counterbalanced order. HR, rate of perceived exertion (RPE), and lactate levels were assessed during both sessions. After the sessions, the participants completed the "Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale" and the "Flow Short Scale." Results: The analysis of variance revealed that enjoyment (P = 0.036), flow (P = 0.042), RPE (P = 0.005), as well as mean and peak HR (P < 0.001) during the EX session were significantly higher compared with the ER. Gender did not affect the differences between the two conditions for mean HR (P = 0.61), maximal HR (P = 0.122), RPE (P = 0.862), flow (P = 0.376) nor enjoyment (P = 0.867). During the EX session, the lactate levels of all participants exceeded the individual lactate threshold (LT). During the ER, lactate values remained below the LT. Conclusion: The ExerCube presents both a physiological relevant exercise stimulus and a joyful gaming experience. Despite the higher exercise intensity achieved during the EX session, enjoyment was significantly higher compared with the ER. Therefore, the EX can be a promising and appealing tool to facilitate physical activity. Trial registration: ISRCTN registry, ISRCTN43067716, April 14, 2020. Trial number: 38154.

Keywords: Adaptive high-intensity exergaming; Enjoyment; Flow; Videogame-based training approach.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise
  • Exercise Test
  • Exergaming*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Physical Exertion
  • Pleasure
  • Video Games*