The effect of an active virtual reality gaming intervention on physical activity and mood in young men with mild to moderate depression; a randomised controlled feasibility trial to improve physical and mental wellbeing during Covid-19.
Title: The effect of an active virtual reality gaming intervention on physical activity and mood in young men with mild to moderate depression; a randomised controlled feasibility trial to improve physical and mental wellbeing during Covid-19.
Background: Physical activity is shown to improve depressive symptoms, however, depression is associated with low physical activity participation, as motivation, engagement and adherence are particularly challenging. Virtual reality gaming has great potential to increase engagement and adherence to physical activity in young adult males, a hard-to-reach population with low help-seeking rates but high incidence of mental illnesses.
Aims: Our feasibility trial seeks to address the evidence gap in achieving physical activity behaviour change in young men affected by depression using novel digital technology, to help develop innovative interventions for improving physical and psychological health.
Methods: Participants engaged in an eight-week intervention of physically active virtual reality gaming at home. Heart rate, session duration and frequency were tracked, and outcomes include feasibility (recruitment, motivation, engagement), mood, adherence and lifestyle behaviours.
Preliminary data analysis showed strong feasibility results; a 23.2% recruitment rate (eligibility out of those who applied), 100% enrolment rate, and a 93.3% retention rate.
There was a statistically significant decrease in depression and stress, and increase in Energy, Role functioning /Emotional scores, physical activity levels and Stage of Change. There was a statistically significant moderate negative correlation between depression scores and both number of gaming sessions >30 mins over the eight weeks and total number of sessions.
Conclusion: This investigation will provide randomised controlled evidence and translational outcomes for feasibility, acceptability, and adherence to inform future research and practice in recommending virtual reality gaming for physical activity and mood in young men affected by depression.