Effects of prolonged multidimensional fitness training with exergames on the physical exertion levels of older adults

  • Afonso Rodrigues GonçalvesEmail author
  • John Edison Muñoz
  • Élvio Rúbio Gouveia
  • Mónica da Silva Cameirão
  • Sergi Bermúdez i Badia
Original Article


While exergames have been used with older adults in an attempt to promote higher physical activity (PA) levels, and its subsequent health benefits, there is a lack of research that objectively quantifies the PA levels that custom-made exergames can produce throughout an extended training program. In this paper, we describe a 3-month intervention study that aimed to measure the participants PA levels during exergames’ sessions and their effectiveness in eliciting the recommended activity levels. Over the course of the study, two groups of older adults participated in either a conventional multidimensional fitness training program of two sessions of exercise per week (n = 16) or in an equivalent combined program (n = 15), of one conventional and one exergame session per week. Both the objective PA levels (through accelerometry) and subjective effort (perceived exertion) were collected in each session. Results revealed that while participants spent more time in moderate-to-vigorous PA during exergaming than during conventional sessions, they also spent less energy, thus working out at lower intensities but for a more sustained amount of time. The self-reported exertion was consistently higher for the sessions of the combined exercise program. We showed that a set of custom-made exergames can be successfully used by trainers to set up personalized training sessions and can be used in combination with regular exercise for sustained long-term training, exposing differences between the two training regimes in terms of efficiency, elicited PA, and perceived effort.


Exergames Activity trackers Perceived exertion Multidimensional training Older adults 



Authors would like to thank the staff personnel of “Ginásio de Santo António- Funchal” for the valuable collaboration during the experiment and all the volunteers for the commitment to the training session. Authors would like to thank the sports science professionals Honorato Sousa and Lúcia Conceição who conducted the training and carried out the assessments.


The work was funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology through the Augmented Human Assistance project (CMUP-ERI/HCI/0046/2013), Projeto Estratégico UID/EEA/50009/2019, MACBIOIDI (INTERREG program MAC/1.1.b/098), and ARDITI (Agência Regional para o Desenvolvimento da Investigação, Tecnologia e Inovação).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

This work was confirmed to comply with the national and international guidelines for scientific research with humans by the ethical council of the Faculty of Human Motricity, University of Lisbon (Review 14/2017).

Informed consent

All the participants gave informed written consent.

Supplementary material

Supplementary material 1 (MP4 92676 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LARSyS & Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (M-ITI)FunchalPortugal
  2. 2.Faculdade de Ciências Exatas e da EngenhariaUniversidade da MadeiraFunchalPortugal
  3. 3.Faculdade de Ciências SociaisUniversidade da MadeiraFunchalPortugal
  4. 4.Systems Design and Engineering DepartmentUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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