Virtual partner better for workouts

Virtual partner better for workouts

The study led by Deborah Feltz, chairperson of Michigan State University department of kinesiology, is the first to investigate the Kohler effect on motivation in health video games.

Kohler effect explains why inferior team members perform better in a group than they would by themselves, the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology reports.

"Our results suggest working out with virtually present, superior partners can improve motivation on exercise game tasks," Feltz said, according to a Michigan statement.

"One of the key hurdles people cite in not working out is a lack of motivation," Feltz said.
"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 team used the Eye Toy camera and PlayStation 2 to measure if a virtual partner motivated people to exercise harder, longer or more frequently.

A plank exercise (which strengthens a person's core abdominal muscles) was used for nearly all 200 participants.

Participants performed the first series of five exercises alone holding each position for as long as they could. After a rest period, they were told they would do the remaining trials with a same-sex virtual partner whom they could observe during their performance.

The partner's performance was manipulated to be always superior to the participant's.
Results showed that task persistence was significantly greater in all experimental conditions; those who exercised with a more-capable virtual partner performed the exercise 24 percent longer than those without.

Also, researchers have found live exercise partners are not always the most helpful.