Development and evaluation of an 'exergaming' intervention to target cardiovascular and quality of life outcomes in a deprived area of the North-East

Lead Research Organisation: University of Teesside
Department Name: Sch of Social Sciences and Law


Much of modern technology in use today is specifically designed to help us minimize our energy expenditure. Lack of physical activity is a major risk factor for life-threatening diseases and is detrimental to mental health. In the North East of England, where this project will be based, only one in three men meet the minimum exercise recommended to avoid these symptoms and are particularly susceptible to a range of health problems related to the metabolic syndrome. Recently, a new generation of computer games - exergaming - offers the potential to help us to exercise more. However, the current consoles/games are criticised for not promoting higher levels of exercise. This is partly down to human nature and partly down to the limitations of the current consoles. Most users begin their exergaming experience with vigour involving using large whole body movements but gradually, as the user becomes aware of the limitations of the technology, they inevitably resort to playing the games using small body movements (e.g. simple wrist flicks). These movements are far less demanding and consequently, the tremendous potential of exergaming in promoting exercise is not being reached. In this project, we will develop and evaluate a new exergaming experience that is specifically designed to reward whole body movements and encourage the user to exercise at a high intensity. The system will be based a movement technology measurement that the research team has created and a game which elicit energy levels of over 8 Mets, being similar to playing real football and four times higher than when using the Nintendo Wii. Developments to the system will include an accurate method of calculating the calories you are burning and this will enable the game to reward and encourage the user to burn more. It is intended that the exercise will be delivered over very short periods, a concept known as high-intensity low-volume interval training, and is a form of exercise commonly used by elite athletes. Recently it has been found that this exercise yields maximal health benefits for minimal effort and is particularly good for promoting fitness in an untrained population. In this project we will develop this exergame and put the new gaming experience into a Social Club in a deprived area of the North East of England. Members will be invited to partake in a 12 weeks high-intensity low-volume training exergaming programme. Physical activity, energy expenditure and other health measures will be closely monitored during the intervention. If successful in reducing risk factors associated with the metabolic syndrome, the exergame will be extended across a range of sectors, including schools, pubs and exercise prescription programs. In doing so, we will reverse the negative impact of modern technology and instead, use it to get us moving once again.

Planned Impact

There are four categories of potential beneficiaries from the proposed research; academic (knowledge and training), Government/public sector (knowledge, skills, policy), society (health, quality of life), business/industry (products, spin-off companies). Crucially with respect to translation, the project will be conducted under the aegis of the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health (CTRPH). The infrastructure and resources of the CTRPH will maximise the likelihood of impact from this project, particularly with respect to academic, public sector, and society beneficiaries. There is an increasing awareness that physical activity promotion is socially and economically advantageous over other methods of treatments and prevention of many modern chronic diseases. However, we are fully aware that achieving increases in the amount of exercise is not easy and, to address the underlying reasons, the proposed project offers an innovative and pragmatic exercise experience which is brief, intense, enjoyable and minimally disruptive to routine. The two local partners and the Social Futures Institute (Teesside University) will help us deliver and evaluate the intervention in a variety of other settings and also to disseminate to Government policy-makers. They will also help us to explore the use of this technology with other groups in the community, including schools, health workers, police and youth workers. In addition to societal benefits we expect there will be commercial value in the new exergaming technology. The intellectual property arising will be managed by the knowledge transfer team at Teesside University. We already have established links with the exergaming industry and believe the new technology may be of interest to games companies. In addition, the concept of Virtual Boxing Nights will be developed with the Buffs Social Club and will seek to exploit anticipated popularity of this form of entertainment through the Working Men's Club and Institute Union, public house bar chains and companies from the fitness industry. In addition to existing partners, we will seek to find new partners using different approaches including the hire of a stand at Leisure Industry Week (September 2011). Finally, because of the potential importance of this project, particularly with regards to improving public health we will make available annotated source code and libraries for our technologies. In doing so, Teesside is prepared to enable new and experienced programmers from around the world to develop and modify code related to improving the exergaming experience. The algorithms will be free from licensing or royalty fees to those in the exergaming community and will provide an important catalyst for achieving healthy benefits across the world.


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Description The project developed technology to deliver high-intensity exercise and health benefits to a target population of males living in regions of socio-economic deprivation. This approach to health intervention was shown to be feasible and acceptable to participants and over the course of the project lead to some improvements in aerobic fitness.
Exploitation Route Please see reference to spinouts and patents.
Sectors Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism

Description Spin-out company operating in Australia as highlighted in Intellectual Property Section. Underlying technologies being developed with professional sports company (Pro-Football Support)
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism
Impact Types Economic

Description Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
Amount £160,485 (GBP)
Funding ID KTP009965 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2015 
End 04/2018
Title Method and apparatus for measuring expended energy 
Description A method of measuring expended energy of a moving body, comprising the steps: i) providing at least one first sensor for measuring position data and/or orientation data and/or dynamic data of a first part of the moving body; ii) providing at least one second sensor for measuring relative position data and/or orientation data and/or dynamic data of a second part of the moving body, wherein the second part is moveable relative to the first part and connected to the first part by a first resistive deformable element; iii) using the at least one first sensor to make a first measurement of the position and/or orientation and/or dynamics of the first part over a period of time and subsequently calculating a global expended energy of the first part relative to a reference frame from the first measurement; iv) using the at least one second sensor to make a second measurement of the position and/or orientation and/or dynamics of the second part over said period of time and subsequently calculating a relative expended energy of the second part relative to the first part from the first and second measurements, wherein the calculation includes the energy required to deform the first resistive deformable element when moving the second part relative to the first part; and v) calculating the total expended energy of the moving body by summing the global expended energy with the relative expended energy; wherein the at least one first sensor comprises a global positioning system (GPS) sensor and/or an inertial measurement unit and/or a first plurality of reference indicia measurable by an image capture device; and the at least one second sensor comprises an inertial measurement unit and/or a second plurality of reference indicia measurable by an image capture device. 
IP Reference WO2012172375 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2012
Licensed Yes
Impact Spin-out company formed (Dynamic Motion Detection Ltd)
Company Name Dynamic Motion Detection 
Description Overseeing the patent licensing agreements (WO 2012172375 A1) 
Year Established 2011 
Impact None