Acute Effects of Virtual Reality Exercise Biking on College Students’ Physical Responses

Nan Zeng, Wenxi Liu, Zachary C Pope, Daniel J McDonough, Zan Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Current evidence regarding the use of commercially available immersive virtual reality (VR) headsets and compatible VR exercise apparatus in the promotion of individuals’ physical activity (PA) is lacking. This exploratory study investigated the acute effects of a VirZoom VR exercise bike (vBike) on college students’ physical responses compared to an exergaming bike (eBike) and a traditional stationary exercise bike (tBike). Method: Forty-eight college students (34 females, Xage = 23.58 ± 3.39; XBMI = 23.81 ± 3.57) completed three separate 20-minute cycling sessions on the vBike, eBike, and tBike in a counterbalanced order. Outcomes included rating of perceived exertion (RPE), assessed at 4-minute intervals throughout each cycling session, and overall PA, operationalized as pedal revolution counts (PRC) during each session. Results: Linear models indicated significant group differences between exercise modalities for RPE (F (2,138) = 14.76–27.30, all p <.001, η = 0.17–0.27) and PRC (F (2,138) = 74.862, p <.001, η 2 = 0.48). Pairwise comparisons revealed that RPE was reported significantly higher at each time point (i.e., 4th minute, 8th minute, 12th minute, 16th minute, and 20th minute) during the tBike session vs. the vBike and eBike sessions (p <.001) and that participants had higher PRC during the vBike session vs. the eBike and tBike sessions (p <.001). Conclusion: A commercially available VR exercise bike would trigger greater overall PA as compared to exergaming and traditional cycling while being perceived less intense. Future intervention studies conducted in real-world settings to determine cause and effect relationship are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)633-639
Number of pages7
JournalResearch Quarterly for Exercise and Sport
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
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  • Cycling
  • VirZoom
  • pedal revolution counts
  • rating of perceived exertion


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