Development of an Exergame to Deliver a Sustained Dose of High-Intensity Training: Lessons Learned in a Formative Pilot Randomized Trial

Thomas McBain, Matthew Weston, Paul Crawshaw, Katie Haighton, Iain Speers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Sport science can play a critical role in reducing health inequalities. The inverse relationship between life-expectancy, cardiorespiratory fitness and socioeconomic status could be addressed by performing high-intensity training (HIT), delivered in a class salient and accessible approach. Commercially available exergames have shown encouraging compliance rates but are primarily designed for entertainment purposes rather than focussing on health-related outcomes. A serious game tailored towards delivering an exercise stimulus, whilst reducing the aversive protocols associated with HIT, could be beneficial to engage and improve health outcomes in socially deprived males.
Objective: The aims were to develop an exergame capable of delivering HIT and evaluate the effect on selected health outcomes in men recruited in regions of socioeconomic deprivation.
Methods: We conducted an exploratory trial in our target population and participants were allocated to intervention (n = 14) or control groups (n = 10) by third-party minimisation. The intervention was a 6-week training program consisting of 3 sessions of exergaming per week. The sessions involved a structured warm-up then brief intermittent repetitions in the form of boxing rounds (10, 20 and 30-sec) against their peers with a work/rest ratio of 0.25.
Results: Retention to the intervention was 87%. Over the duration of the intervention, session attendance was 68%, repetition mean and peak heart rates (% of maximal) and session ratings of perceived exertion (arbitrary units) were 86.3±5.4%, 89.9±6.1% and 7.5±2.2AU, respectively. The effect of the intervention, when compared to the control, was a likely small beneficial improvement in predicted VO2max (3.0; 90% confidence limits ± 2.6%). Effects on body mass, waist circumference and blood pressure were either trivial or unclear.
Conclusions: Over the 6-week intervention, the exergame delivered a consistent and sustained dose of HIT, with some beneficial effects on aerobic fitness in the target population.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere4
Number of pages13
JournalJMIR Serious Games
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2018


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