Virtual Reality and Aerobic Training Interventions Reduce Gaming Time in Men With Gaming Disorder

For men with gaming disorder, both virtual reality-based training (VRT) and aerobic training (AT) were effective at reducing gaming time and severity of gaming disorder, according to the results of a randomized, controlled trial, published in Mental Health and Physical Activity .

This study recruited men (N=44) with gaming disorder at Hasan Kalyoncu University Physiotherapy Practice and Research Center in Turkey between 2019 and 2021. The participants were randomly assigned to receive VRT (n=15), or AT (n=14), or no intervention (n=15).

VRT and AT consisted of 30-minute training sessions 3 days per week for 6 weeks. VRT was delivered using the Xbox Kinect 360° in which the participants engaged in boxing, hurdle jumping, and beach volleyball. AT was delivered using a treadmill. The change in Internet Gaming Disorder Scale-Short Form (IGDS9-SF), International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ), Senior Fitness Test (SFT), and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) instruments were then evaluated.

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The VRT, AT, and control cohorts were made up of men aged mean 23.8, 22.1, and 22.2 years (P =.040); BMI was 24.6, 23.3, and 24.5 kg/m2 (P = .545). They had smoked 2.8, 3.3, and 2.1 pack-years (P=.439) and they spent 212, 252, and 296 minutes (P=.216) per day gaming, respectively.

The VRT intervention associated with significant improvements to gaming time (t, 5.76; P =.000), IGDS9-SF score (t, 4.28; P =.001), physical activity (t, -2.79; P =.014), sedentary time (t, 6.16; P =.000), 6-minute walking test distance (t, -3.80; P =.002), chair stand test (t, -4.23; P =.001), arm curl test ( t, -4.77; P =.000), chair sit and reach test (t, 2.90; P =.012), back scratch test (t, 3.52; P =.003), predicted maximum oxygen uptake (t, -2.24 ; P=.041), and BAI score (t, 2.26; P=.040).

The AT cohort was associated with improvements to all outcomes except chair stand test (P = .083), back scratch test (P = .423), and chair sit and reach test (P = .518).

For the control cohort, significant improvements to chair sit and reach (t, -4.01; P =.001) and back scratch test (t, 2.17; P =.047) were observed.

There was a significant time effect for gaming time, IGDS9-SF, physical activity, sedentary time, 6-minute walking test distance, chair sit test, arm curl test, predicted maximum oxygen uptake, and BAI (all P<.05); significant group effect for gaming time, IGDS9-SF, physical activity, sedentary time, and 6-minute walking test distance (all P <.05), and a significant time-by-group interaction for all outcomes (all P <.05 ).

This study was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic which could have affected gaming and physical fitness behaviors.

“VRT and AT programs may be beneficial for alleviation of adverse psychological and physiological effects of gaming disorder and prevention of the development of more severe gaming addiction through improvements in physical fitness and anxiety. VRT and AT programs can also be useful in the treatment of gaming disorder,” study authors concluded.


Maden C, Bayramlar K, Aricak OT, Yagli NV. Effects of virtual reality-based training and aerobic training on gaming disorder, physical activity, physical fitness, and anxiety: a randomized, controlled trial. Ment Health Phys Act. 2022;100465. doi:10.1016/j.mhpa.2022.100465

This article originally appeared on Psychiatry Advisor

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