Physiological Response of Imagery Running with or without an Avatar in 3D Virtual Reality: A Preliminary Study
[OBJECTIVES] The present study is aimed at observing the physiological response imagery running with an avatar in 3D virtual reality (VR) and to explore the differences in physiological responses between imagery running with and without an avatar in 3D VR. [METHODS] We randomly assigned 32 healthy adults to either a group with Avatar (n = 19) or a group without (n = 13). The group with avatar performed imagery exercise with an avatar in 3D VR and the group without Avatar performed it without an avatar in 3D VR. Both groups were instructed to mentally imagine performing running in VR without executing actual physical movements. We recorded electro-physiological data before, during, and after the 20-min intervention. We also measured the participants’ level of presence and intensity of experienced cybersickness. [RESULTS] In the group with Avatar, all physiological responses increased from the resting to the intervention period. The group with Avatar also showed a higher level of presence and fewer cybersickness symptoms than the group without Avatar. [CONCLUSIONS] The results suggest imagery running with an avatar in 3D VR might be effective as an alternative exercise.