Impact of the recreational use of virtual reality on physical and mental wellbeing during the Covid-19 lockdown

Alessandro Siani, Sarah Marley

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The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes to most aspects of our lives. As a result of the quarantine enforced by governments and authorities worldwide, people had to suddenly adapt their daily routines, including work, study, diet, leisure and fitness activities to the new circumstances. A growing body of research indicates that the engagement with virtual reality (VR) activities can have a positive impact on users’ mental and physical wellbeing. This study aims to evaluate the impact of VR activities on users under lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. An online survey was carried out to investigate the recreational use of VR during the lockdown period and to gather users’ opinions on its impact on their physical and mental health. Non-parametric tests were used to evaluate the statistical significance of the responses provided by the 646 participants. The results of the survey show that VR use has significantly increased during the lockdown period for most participants, who expressed overwhelmingly positive opinions on the impact of VR activities on their mental and physical wellbeing. Strikingly, self-reported intensity of physical activity was considerably more strenuous in VR users than in console users. Given the current uncertainty as to the duration and course of the pandemic, as well as the possibility of intermittent lockdown in the upcoming years, the outcomes of this study could have a significant impact towards the development and deployment of VR-based strategies aimed at helping the population cope with prolonged social distancing, with particular regards to vulnerable individuals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-435
Number of pages11
JournalHealth and Technology
Early online date14 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • virtual reality
  • VR
  • Covid-19
  • coronavirus
  • lockdown
  • mental health
  • fitness


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