Exercise & Virtual Reality: Meet The Future!

For a long time, the video game industry has been seen as a passive activity completely incompatible with better physical fitness and wellbeing. Using video games and virtual reality to promote more physical activity is a brand new avenue in fitness and fitness. It’s getting more popular and is likely to be brought to a gym or a home near your home in the near-far future.

Virtual fitness, also known as VR Fitness, refers to utilizing advanced, virtual reality technology that creates a new fitness environment across the planet. These games use a round headset that blocks any light visible from the outside and places you in the center of a virtual world that allows you to play various activities and games, including bowling, boxing shooter games, and cognitive tests.

When you play games that utilize VR to aid in exercise, after you put on the headset and pull out the hand-held devices that talk with the gaming console, you’re ready to kick, punch and slide, slice, or swipe your way through an exciting and engaging exercise that can help relieve the fatigue and boredom that you’re feeling from other traditional exercise alternatives.

When you use VR fitness equipment, the body functions as the controller; instead of sitting down and watching your avatar’s movement through the screen like in traditional games, you perform the movements using your body that you would like to watch your virtual character take on. That’s where fitness comes in.

Finding The Fitness Angle In VR

Aaron Stanton, founder, and director of the San Francisco-based Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise, an independent research and rating company created to research the health effects on health from virtual and Augmented Reality and make a VR revolutionary fitness. The reason he got his first idea to create VR Institute VR Institute stems from a trip to England some time back.

He spotted an advertising campaign for health by the government with a picture of a kid lying on a sofa with the Game controller held in one hand and a blank look at his face. The headline read, “Risk dying young and do nothing about it,” Stanton recalls. “And this is the mental picture that the majority of people have about video games. It’s that it’s a life of passive.”

However, that’s not always the case, according to the research. As Stanton has now proven, certain games can burn off a significant amount of calories. Games that are designed to get you moving and moving could be as intense as the most intense spin classes or group exercise setting to burn calories and overall health advantages.

Stanton discovered this in 2016 while playing a video game known as Audioshield, which lets players block musical notes using their bodies. The software he was using, which records “how many times” and the amount of time you spend playing different games.” showed that I had played over 110 hours of Audioshield. After seeing this, I felt somewhat embarrassed. However, I considered it and realized that it feels like I’m exercising. This makes my VR unit the most efficient exercise equipment I’ve ever purchased. I’ve owned treadmills and an exercise elliptical and rowing machine, but I’ve never been able to spend more than 110 hours with one of them.”

Can Video Games Be Exercise?

To test his theory, Stanton founded the VR Institute and approached kinesiology researchers at San Francisco State University. Jimmy Bagley, assistant professor of Kinesiology at SFSU, was among the researchers who started to study the possibility of how VR could be used for exercises.

When they first came into contact, Bagley was doing most of his work in human physiology, with a focus on the performance of muscles. He worked with athletes, senior adults, and people who suffer from chronic disabilities to understand how muscles perform and the best way to get the most of them in any situation.

At first, Bagley thought using VR for exercise was an unintentional gimmick. “I decided that when your heart rate was rising, perhaps you’re scared or experiencing an impulse to the sympathetic nervous system similar to when you watch a film. This doesn’t mean that you’re working out.”

The team decided to try it out at the laboratory to discover what was happening. They used VO2 max equipment to test, which is an eye mask and tube system athletes wear when running or biking until they exhaust themselves to assess their physical fitness levels when training at an elite level – they placed participants in the VR systems and played several games.

SFSU researchers discovered that there was true, “moderate to vigorous intensity” exercise taking place when players were playing certain types of VR-based games, Bagley states.

They were able to quantify the exact calories expended in various games. From there, the idea came to assess and rate various VR games to ensure that people looking to harness VR for enhanced fitness and wellbeing can make better-informed decisions of how they can utilize their gaming time to achieve their fitness goals.

Making Exercise Engaging

“These games weren’t designed to be fitness-oriented at first,” Bagley says. Still, over time, some games like Beat Saber and Supernatural have gained a reputation for being energy-burners and are immensely enjoyable and stimulating.

Beat Saber is a rhythm game in which you cut beats using two sabers when they are flying towards you. Supernatural takes players to beautiful, Instagram-worthy places to provide the background for a fast-paced, well-coached exercise that involves swinging bats to smash targets that fly towards your body while you squat and move from side to side to keep away from obstacles, much like Beat Saber.


  • Timothy P. Carnes

    Timothy P. Carnes is a certified personal trainer with a Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science from the University of Florida. With over 8 years of experience in the fitness industry, Timothy is an expert in strength and conditioning, body composition, and overall health and wellness. He also holds certifications in strength and conditioning through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and corrective exercise through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). As an author at FitGAG, he shares his knowledge and expertise on a variety of topics, including strength training, body composition, and overall health and wellness tips. Timothy believes that consistency and discipline are the keys to achieving fitness goals, and he strives to inspire his readers to prioritize their fitness and wellness journey. Through his articles, Timothy aims to empower his readers to take control of their health, enhance their performance, and live their best lives.

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