(HealthDay News) – Exercise duration is improved by exercising with a virtual partner, especially with a moderately superior partner, according to a study published in the October issue of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

To examine the influence of a virtually present partner on participants’ motivation during aerobic exercise, Brandon C. Irwin, PhD, from Michigan State University in East Lansing, and colleagues randomly assigned 58 females (mean age, 20.54 years) to exercise on a stationary bike with either a coactive condition (exercising alongside another person, independently), a conjunctive condition (performance determined by whichever partner stops exercising first) with a superior partner, or to an individual condition.

The researchers found that, across sessions held on six separate days, participants in the conjunctive condition exercised for significantly longer (21.89±10.08 minutes) than the participants in coactive conditions (19.77±9 minutes) and those in individual conditions (10.6±5.84 minutes) (P<0.05).

“The current findings contribute to a growing body of research on the existence and performance of motivation gains in experimental groups, and the likely utility of these gains, in this case, in aerobic exercise tasks,” the authors write. “These findings lend support to the notion that group motivation gain effects can influence exercise performance (most potently under conjunctive task demands with a moderately more capable partner) over several trials.”

Full Text