Video games aren’t usually the first thing you think of when it comes to fitness, but the introduction of virtual reality is turning these games into a legitimate fitness tool. What virtual reality applications for fitness should you be adding to your weekly workout?
How Does Virtual Reality Work?
First, how does virtual reality work? Why would you want to put on a headset to work out instead of heading outside or to the gym? Virtual reality works by creating a 3D environment and projecting it on a pair of screens — one for each eye. Most headsets are designed so you can adjust the distance between the lenses so you can adapt it for the best fit. The lenses change the imagery being fed to each eye to turn a 2D design into a 3D image.
When paired with a set of headphones, this generates an immersive environment. You feel like you’re actually in the midst of a battle or on the moon or exploring the planet, without ever leaving the comfort of your living room.
The Immersive Fitness Trend
The immersive fitness trend is being called the future of fitness. Instead of staring at the walls or mirrors of your gym, you can travel the world or the solar system while burning calories. It’s easy to get bored when you’re doing the same workout every single day. With immersive fitness, you don’t need to worry about getting bored. If you’re tired of your environment, it just takes a couple of keystrokes to change it to something completely new.
If you’re not familiar with VR fitness, here are a couple of our favorite VR applications to keep you moving.
Beat Saber for Cardio
If you’ve ever been a fan of rhythm games like Guitar Hero, Dance Dance Revolution, or Rock Band, you’ll love Beat Saber. This independent virtual reality game gives you two lightsabers to wield. You need to use these sabers to slice through the notes of your favorite songs. You’ll also need to dodge obstacles and bombs which will have you moving throughout your play session.
According to the VR Health Institute, Beat Saber burns about the same amount of calories as playing tennis. You won’t even know you’re working out until you’re done when you’re dripping sweat and your fitness tracker is congratulating you on a great workout.
Writer’s Note: I’ve played Beat Saber — modded on PC — on an Oculus Rift Touch and according to my Fitbit, I can burn nearly 500 calories in 60 minutes. All of that while playing a video game!
Black Box for Strength Training
While most virtual reality games are great for cardio, they don’t offer a lot when it comes to strength training. That’s where Black Box comes in. This isn’t a game that you can pick up for your home system as of yet though. Black Box pairs VR immersion with real-life resistance training. Instead of staring in a mirror to make sure your form is correct, the VR sensors monitor your position and offer gentle corrections on your screen.
Right now, there are Black Box gyms in San Franciso, but the company is working toward opening more locations all the time.
VR is good for more than just fitness though. It can be used to train soldiers for battle scenarios, teach surgeons how to carry out delicate surgeries and help patients overcome their fears through immersion therapy. The technology is only limited by the skills of the programmers.
You don’t have burn calories to benefit from virtual reality. Virtual meditation takes your favorite smartphone-based meditation app to a whole new level. You’ll still get the same guided meditation, but instead of listening to it on your headphones, you’ll be experiencing it in relaxing locales like a coral reef or outer space.
Meditation can help you manage stress, improve productivity and help you live a happier life. Give one of these guided VR meditation apps a try and see how much more effective it is than your favorite audio app.
The Future of Fitness
Is virtual reality the future of fitness. It’s really too early to tell, especially since a home-based VR headset requires a powerful computer and a substantial investment to obtain all the equipment you’ll need, but immersive fitness is quickly becoming a new favorite in the fitness community.
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