Muscle activation behavior in a swimming exergame: Differences by experience and gaming velocity

Pooya Soltani, Pedro Figueiredo, Ricardo J. Fernandes, João Paulo Vilas-Boas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The effects of playing intensity and prior exergame and sport experience on the activation patterns of upper limb muscles during a swimming exergame were investigated. Surface electromyography of Biceps Brachii, Triceps Brachii, Latissimus Dorsi, Upper Trapezius, and Erector Spinae of twenty participants was recorded, and the game play was divided into normal and fast. Mean muscle activation, normalized to maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC), ranged from 4.9 to 95.2%MVIC and differed between normal and fast swimming for all techniques (p < 0.05), except for Latissimus Dorsi during backstroke. After normalizing the %MVIC to playing velocity, selective behaviors were observed between muscles which were sufficient for pragmatic game play. Moreover, prior exergame and real sport experience did not have any effect on the muscle activation changes between normal and fast swimming. These behaviors are likely to happen when players understand the game mechanics, even after a short exposure. Such evaluation might help in adjusting the physical demands of sport exergames, for safe and meaningful experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-28
Number of pages6
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Exergame
  • Kinematics
  • Surface electromyography
  • Virtual swimming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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