BACKGROUND: It is well established that physical activity is beneficial to health. For the individual in a wheelchair, a regular exercise program might not be available or may be too difficult to participate in physically and/or psychologically. Many exercise devices and regimes are boring. The goal, therefore, is to develop a device that makes exercise more exciting and, thus, motivates a person to exercise more or for a longer period of time, yielding increased energy expenditure. Our laboratory developed an interface between an arm ergometer and a computer game that allows the user to control game play on the screen as if using a joystick. The purpose of this study was to determine (a) whether the GAME(Cycle) system would elicit an exercise effect similar to arm ergometry, (b) whether perceived exertion would be different between the 2 devices, and (c) individuals’ impressions regarding the GAME(Cycle) system.
METHODS: Thirteen individuals who used wheelchairs participated in the study. Participants were asked to exercise for 2 separate, 19-minute sessions. For 1 session, a GAME(Cycle) system was used and for the other session, the same arm ergometer was used, but without the computer game being played. Physiologic data and perceived exertion were collected for each session.
RESULTS: There were significant differences between playing the game and not playing the game for VO2 (P = 0.03) and VCO2 (P = 0.02), with higher values being found when the game was played. Perceived exertion was not significantly different between the 2 trials.
CONCLUSION: GAME(Cycle) appears to be similar in nature with respect to energy expenditure to arm ergometry. Because this study was conducted on athletes, further research is needed with sedentary individuals to determine exercise effects and perceived exertion.