Manipulating Perception of Exertion with Virtual Reality Exercise

  • Research type

    Research Study

  • Full title

    Virtual reality modulated exercise environments in people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: A Pilot Study



  • Contact name

    Richard Bruce

  • Contact email

  • Sponsor organisation

    King's College London

  • Duration of Study in the UK

    0 years, 5 months, 30 days

  • Research summary

    In virtual reality (VR) environments, individuals can be placed in an immersive world where the nature of reality can be inconspicuously manipulated. This technique has great potential at altering exercise workload perception. For example, virtual images moving at varying speeds, along with a stationary bike which tilts to simulate a change in cycling grade (incline/decline), can be used to give riders the perception of cycling slowly/fast or uphill/downhill and so may change perception of exercise effort. This concept has the potential to lead to new therapeutic techniques for patient groups who require rehabilitation but are exercise intolerant.

    Currently however, it is unknown whether the manipulation of VR environments can alter perceived work/effort, and sensations of breathlessness and exercise tolerance in health or disease. In a separate project, we are assessing the impact of various VR environments and exercise challenges on perceived exertion and cardiorespiratory responses in healthy participants, which aims to uncover the nature and mechanisms of any effects. In the current pilot project, we aim to examine the perception of exertion/breathlessness during VR exercise, and the tolerance and feasibility of this exercise protocol in patients living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) referred for pulmonary rehabilitation.

    10 patient participants will be invited to the laboratory, within the dept of respiratory medicine at King's College Hospital, on one occasion. Using a cycle ergometer and VR headset partipcants will cycle through a virtual reality environment designed by the experimenters. Participants will be asked to pedal at a constant rate, and the visual feedback from the environment will be adjusted (e.g. speed of movement and inclines/declines). During the VR exercise protocol, lasting 15min in total, the rating of perceived exertion/breathlessness will be recorded. This pilot data will be used in the design of more ambitious planned work requiring additional funding/approvals.

  • REC name

    North of Scotland Research Ethics Committee 1

  • REC reference


  • Date of REC Opinion

    9 Jun 2022

  • REC opinion

    Favourable Opinion