Effects of exergaming on exercise capacity in patients with heart failure: results of an international multicentre randomized controlled trial

Tiny Jaarsma, Leonie Klompstra, Tuvia Ben Gal, Binyamin Ben Avraham, Josiane Boyne, Maria Bäck, Oronzo Chialà, Kenneth Dickstein, Lorraine Evangelista, Andreas Hagenow, Arno W. Hoes, Eva Hägglund, Massimo F. Piepoli, Ercole Vellone, Nicolaas P.A. Zuithoff, Jan Mårtensson, Anna Strömberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Aims Exergaming is a new tool to increase physical activity. This study aimed to determine the effects of access to a home-based exergame (Nintendo Wii) in patients with heart failure (HF) on exercise capacity, self-reported physical activity and patient-reported outcome measures. Methods and results We enrolled 605 HF patients in New York Heart Association functional class I–IV, independent of ejection fraction, in an international multicentre randomized controlled trial. Patients were randomized to exergame (intervention) or motivational support (control). The primary endpoint was change in submaximal aerobic exercise capacity as measured by the distance walked in 6 min (6MWT) between baseline and 3 months. Secondary endpoints included long-term submaximal aerobic exercise capacity, muscle function, self-reported physical activity, exercise motivation, exercise self-efficacy at 3, 6 and 12months. At baseline, patients on average walked 403±142m on the 6MWT. Patients in the exergame group walked further compared to controls at 3 months (454±123 vs. 420±127 m, P = 0.005), at 6 months (452±123 vs. 426±133 m, P = 0.015) and 12months (456±122 vs. 420±135 m, P = 0.004). However, correcting for baseline 6MWT values by means of a linear mixed-effects model revealed no main effect for the intervention on 6MWT. Small significant effects on muscle function were found. Statistically significant treatment effects were found for muscle function but after correction for baseline and confounders, only the treatment effect for the heel-rise left at 6 months was significant (P <0.05). No treatment effect was found for exercise motivation, exercise self-efficacy, or self-reported physical activity.Conclusion Exergaming was safe and feasible in patients with HF with different profiles in different health care systems, cultures and climates. However, it was not effective in improving outcomes on submaximal aerobic exercise capacity. Subgroup analysis did not identify specific subgroups benefiting from the intervention. Clinical Trial Registration: ClinicalTrial.gov Identifier: NCT01785121.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-124
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Heart Failure
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Aerobic capacity
  • Exergaming
  • Heart failure
  • Heart failure management
  • Physical activity
  • Serious Games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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