Social facilitation in virtual reality-enhanced exercise: competitiveness moderates exercise effort of older adults
Cay Anderson-Hanley1,2, Amanda L Snyder1, Joseph P Nimon1, Paul J Arciero1,2
1Healthy Aging and Neuropsychology Lab, Department of Psychology, Union College, Schenectady, NY, USA; 2Health and Exercise Sciences Department, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY, USA
Abstract: This study examined the effect of virtual social facilitation and competitiveness on exercise effort in exergaming older adults. Fourteen exergaming older adults participated. Competitiveness was assessed prior to the start of exercise. Participants were trained to ride a “cybercycle;” a virtual reality-enhanced stationary bike with interactive competition. After establishing a cybercycling baseline, competitive avatars were introduced. Pedaling effort (watts) was assessed. Repeated measures ANOVA revealed a significant group (high vs low competitiveness) X time (pre- to post-avatar) interaction (F[1,12] = 13.1, P = 0.003). Virtual social facilitation increased exercise effort among more competitive exercisers. Exercise programs that match competitiveness may maximize exercise effort.
Keywords: exercise, aging, virtual reality, competitiveness, social facilitation, exercise intensity