The recent pandemic has drastically changed nearly all aspects of our lives. Stay at home orders are causing people to feel confined and anxious and the closure of gyms, parks, and community centers have forced millions to suddenly adopt a sedentary lifestyle. The WHO recognizes the pandemic as posing a significant threat to global mental health, stating that quarantine and self-isolation can lead to negative feelings such as “stress, depression, irritability, insomnia, fear, confusion, frustration, and boredom”.
Many studies have shown the efficacy of Virtual Reality (VR) for helping people manage stress, anxieties, and depression. VR has also been shown to promote physical well-being. Physical movements exerted through virtual reality games like Beat Saber can greatly increase heart rate and burn hundreds of calories in a single session.
Now a study conducted by Alessandro Siani and Sarah Anne Marley, two leading faculty members at the University of Portsmouth’s School of Biological Sciences, has aimed “to evaluate the effectiveness of VR as a physical and mental health aid for people observing social distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Here are some highlights of the study which consisted of surveys submitted by 646 participants from around the world:
- Over 75% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that their use of VR increased during the pandemic.
- Over 60% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that VR was a good way to keep fit during lockdown
- Close to 80% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that VR has a positive impact on their mental health during lockdown
In conclusion, the researchers stated: “The majority of the population surveyed in this study, regardless of their gender and age, reported that their VR use has increased during the lockdown, and expressed overwhelmingly positive opinions on the usefulness of VR as a way to keep busy and improve their mental and physical wellbeing.”
The Foretell Reality platform offers features and environments for support groups, 1:1 and group therapy, and guided stress and anxiety relief.