Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Virtual Workout Partners

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Virtual Workout Partners

Article excerpt

Can't find an exercise buddy? Don't worry: New research from Michigan State University (MSU) reveals working out with a virtual partner improves motivation during exercise.

The study--led by Deborah Feltz, chairperson of MSU's Department of Kinesiology--is the first to investigate the Kohler effect on motivation in health video games. This phenomenon explains why inferior team members perform better in a group than they would by themselves. The research is published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology.

"Our results suggest working out with virtually present, superior partners can improve motivation on exercise game tasks," Feltz says. "These findings provide a starting point to test additional features that have the potential to improve motivational gains in health video games."

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By incorporating design features based on the Kohler effect, health video games could motivate vigorous exercise, she adds.

"One of the key hurdles people cite in not working out is a lack of motivation," Feltz says. "Research has shown working out with a partner increases motivation, and with a virtual partner, you are removing the social anxiety that some people feel working out in public."

As part of the study, Feltz and her research team used the Eye Toy camera and PlayStation 2 to measure if a virtual partner motivated people to exercise harder, longer, or more frequently. …

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