Virtual Reality-Based Exercise with Exergames as Medicine in Different Contexts: A Short Review

Marcos Túlio Silva Costa1, Lanna Pinheiro Vieira1, Elizabete de Oliveira Barbosa2, Luciana Mendes Oliveira2, 3, Pauline Maillot4, César Augusto Ottero Vaghetti5, Mauro Giovani Carta6, Sérgio Machado7, Valeska Gatica-Rojas8, Renato Sobral Monteiro-Junior2, *
1 Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, State University of Montes Claros, Montes Claros, Brazil
2 Department of Physical Education, State University of Montes Claros, Montes Claros, Brazil
3 Departament of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
4 UFR de Sciences et Techniques des Activités Physiques et Sportives de Paris, Université Paris Descartes, Paris, France
5 Faculty of Physical Education, Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
6 Departament of Public Health, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy
7 Departament of Physical Activity Science, Universidade Salgado de Oliveira, Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
8 Human Motor Control Laboratory, Universidad de Talca, Talca, Chile

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© 2019 Costa et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Physical Education, State University of Montes Claros, Montes Claros, Brazil; Tel: +55383229-8000; E-mail:


There is enough evidence that, nowadays, the sedentary lifestyle is one of the major health problems worldwide, linked to many chronic diseases, including mental comorbidities, systemic hypertension, metabolic dysregulation, and cancer. Although health societies recommend engagement to physical activities, there is an overwhelming number of people remaining sedentary, even knowing the health benefits of regular exercises. One of the main factors that justifies this scenario is the lack of motivation, which is a barrier to people intended to start new habits for health. Considering this previous information, new alternatives for exercises may help people engage in a healthier lifestyle. Technology has contributed to this with devices that allow movements based on virtual reality approaches, including the exergames. These are games available even in commercial devices, as video-games, that allow people to work with different physical components. Furthermore, exergames add cognitive gain through its dual-task characteristic. Moreover, due to the combination of these benefits, they are feasible to acquire, and easy to use. Exergames are not only a potential strategy to reduce sedentary lifestyle but also a good method to improve health gains and rehabilitation in different populations and pathological conditions: older adults, stroke survivors, and Parkinson’s disease. In this review, we aim to demonstrate some conditions that literature supports the intervention with exergames due to its physical and cognitive benefits. Furthermore, at the end of this review, we also explore the neurobiological mechanisms behind virtual-reality based exercises.

Keywords: Neurologic diseases, Exergames, Health promotion, Virtual-reality, Cognition, Balance, Motor-function, Neurobiology.