Astronauts may have difficulty adhering to exercise regimens at vigorous intensity levels during long space missions. Keeping up with exercise prescriptions is important for aerobic and musculoskeletal health during space missions and afterwards. A key impediment to maintaining intense levels of exercise is motivation. However, finding ways to motivate astronauts to be physically active at the levels necessary to lessen the effects of bone and muscle loss and aerobic capacity has not been explored. Typically individuals become bored with training regimens over time or find them less enjoyable if they do not have strategies to maintain their motivation. Although traditional group exercise leads to higher exercise adherence than individual exercise programs, structured group exercise programs are not possible for astronauts during space missions. Exercise video games have been marketed as a way to increase people’s motivation and enjoyment to exercise by being entertaining, engaging and providing a means by which to interact with other players. Although many exercise games involve competition among players, few take advantage of group dynamics to motivate play and there has been little attempt to analyze what game features and interpersonal interactions would best motivate users to continue exercising with these games. Using individuals closely matched in age and fitness to current astronauts, this research was designed to determine whether recently documented motivation gains in task groups can be harnessed to improve motivation in interactive exercise games using virtual, software-generated (SG) partners. Exercising with an SG partner offers a number of advantages such as availability, flexibility, and autonomy over a live human partner.
This study had the following specific aims:
To address the third aim, investigators tested an SG exercise partner in one of two modes: (a) conjunctive-teammate mode and (b) conjunctive teammate who is not always superior (NAS) and is sometimes surpassed by the subject, plus (c) individual control condition. Subjects exercised six days a week for 24 weeks, using the following aerobic routines: (a) 30 minutes of continuous aerobic exercise on a stationary cycle at or above 75% HR max, (b) 4x4 minute intervals at or above 90% HR max with three minutes of active rest, (c) 6x2 minute intervals at varying intensities with two minutes of active rest, and (d) 30 second sprint intervals at maximal effort with 20 seconds of active rest.
In addition, investigators first tested whether the Conjunctive or NAS groups adhered more to the protocol than Controls. Conjunctive and NAS conditions averaged 15 more days completing the protocol than the Controls. However, group differences were not statistically different. In terms of the primary dependent measure, effort analyses are based on the continuous and four minute interval sessions. Subjects were not allowed to increase their intensity on the two minute intervals. Similarly, the dependent measure for the 30 second sprints was number of intervals completed, which all subjects completed. During Week 20, NAS subjects increased their effort more (M = 8.9 watts) compared to Controls (M = 1.5 watts) and Conjunctive subjects (M = 3.9 watts) on the four minute interval workout.
In regards to target prescribed watts, results showed no condition main effects from baseline; however, during the four minute interval sessions conjunctive trended toward greater exercise effort than control and coactive conditions. The four minute intervals likely represent the most motivationally demanding workout at 90% HR max. Increases in effort above target watts positively correlated with enjoyment, self-efficacy, and team perceptions during the four minute intervals. No relationships were found with less intense continuous exercise. Although this study did not find significances between group increases in performance effort, participants significantly increased their effort with the exercise video game (i.e., simulated bike paths).
Throughout the duration of the study, NAS subjects always outperformed Controls on the four minute intervals. All groups had large significant increases in VO2max from baseline to midpoint, then values leveled off from midpoint to final. Social connectedness rose significantly from midpoint to final, and those with an SG partner increased their teams' perceptions from midpoint to final. Subjects in NAS and Conjunctive conditions had higher self-efficacy beliefs than Controls after one week with the SG partner. Enjoyment remained stable, above response scale midpoint, across 24 weeks.
|Mission||Launch/Start Date||Landing/End Date||Duration|