Why Working Out in VR is Recreation-changing – Highway to VR
Thanks to its motion-tracked input, VR can be a surprisingly physical activity and even a great workout if you play the right games. This article explains why training in VR is game-changing for those of us who have a hard time staying motivated with a typical fitness routine. We’ll also highlight games and accessories that enhance VR as a fitness activity.
Cas & Chary present
Cas and Chary VR is a YouTube channel by the Dutch duo Casandra Vuong and Chary Keijzer, who have been documenting their VR trips since 2016. They share a curated selection of their content with additional insights for the Road to VR audience.
So I wanted to bring up a topic that I usually find boring but that can be incredibly fun in VR!
Everyone needs to exercise, but I’m usually not motivated to get dressed and go to the gym after work. It certainly doesn’t help that I find training in the gym boring and time consuming. I’ve been using VR as a workout for a while now and it feels great. I have no problem staying motivated because it’s fun!
You don’t just have to take my word for it, though. Many others have made VR a part of their physical fitness, and with real success. See, for example, this article by VR Scout where they tell a success story of Robert who developed a daily 30 minute workout routine with just Beat Saber and lost 138 pounds in just two months.
Reddit user Geoffbowman says he took a six month VR fitness trip with Beat Saber to see the results that can be achieved by adding VR Cardio to an otherwise unchanged lifestyle and diet. He shows a picture of the results and says he is 30 pounds lighter.
The Virtual Reality Institute for Health and Movement researches the effects of virtual reality exercises on the human body. They concluded that exercising in VR, with the right games, can burn more calories than most specialized exercise equipment in the gym.
Several companies have started working on calorie tracking apps for VR games. The VR Institute for Health and Movement has an app called VR Health Exercise Tracker that you can download for free to accurately estimate the calorie consumption in certain VR games. There is another VR calorie measurement app from YUR Fit. I’ll talk more about these apps below.
For me, the best thing about training in VR is that it no longer feels like a boring workout in the gym. It just feels like I’m playing a game, which makes it comfortable and easier for me to stay motivated. Plus, it really feels like a workout afterwards.
That’s why I wanted to share this video. I want to inspire others to try this. And if you have friends who don’t enjoy gaming, they might want to buy a VR headset just for fitness reasons.
What you need to train in VR
The two basic things you will need are a VR headset and some VR games. If you don’t already have a headset. I recommend buying an Oculus Quest as it’s quick and easy to use, and the lack of cord is great for games with a lot of movement. Quest starts at $ 400.
Once you have the headset, using a calorie tracker and heart monitor is also useful as it can more accurately track your workout. Tip: If you have an Apple Watch, Apple recently added a workout type called Fitness Gaming.
However, since VR is still a fairly new industry, regular calorie trackers may not provide the most accurate data. So I recommend using a calorie tracker for VR games. Here are two free options I like:
The one I use the most is YUR Fit as it shows an overlay during my VR game sessions that shows how many calories I’ve burned, how long I’ve been exercising, my current heart rate and even how often I’m ‘me crouched down.
Heart rate data is available when you connect a compatible heart monitor. Here is a list of all monitors that are supported by the YUR Fit app. I use a Wahoo TICKR and I’m pretty happy with it. If you use the app without a heart monitor, your heart rate will be estimated by software.
YUR Fit is currently in Early Access. You can download the desktop app on Steam or download the app from the site on Oculus Quest. If you don’t know how to side-load, I made a guide on how to do this in a previous video.
VR Health Exercise Tracker
This is the app from the Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise. This one seems to support less heart monitors as mine wasn’t working, but this app shows a list of different games that tells you how many calories you will burn per minute per game. The calorie consumption for each individual game is assessed by the institute itself. You can find more information about their ratings here.
VR Health Life is available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
Our favorite VR workout games
For those looking for VR game recommendations. Here are the ones I like to use during my VR training.
- Beat Saber – Rhythm VR game that works my arms the most. So I usually combine that with other games.
- Audio Trip – Rhythm VR game with great flow that gets your whole body moving.
- Pistol Whip – A music game that will make you feel great. Since you dodge bullets frequently, you will crouch down a lot. I use this to work out my lower body.
- Until You Fall – A procedurally generated sword fighting game that can also be intense. Move your arms the most, but crouching is sometimes required.
For more gaming tips, we recommend reading the rated games on the VR Health Life app. You can also check out this VR training program from Road to VR Executive Editor Ben Lang which suggests a specific routine and ways to play each game for the best workout.