VR Fitness: Can My Virtual Reality Game Be Exercise?

Can video games be exercise? Yes, experts say, and virtual reality (VR) technology is ushering in a whole new way of exercising.

Throw in a VR headset, load up a real game, and suddenly you’re sparring in a boxing ring or skiing in the Swiss Alps, says Aaron Stanton, founder and director of the Virtual Reality Health and Exercise Institute, an independent research organization launched in 2017 to study the effects of virtual reality technology. and augmented reality on fitness. (Since its inception, the organization has partnered with San Francisco State University and the virtual reality platform VIVE.)

VR exercise is no different from other types of aerobic exercise, Stanton says. You’re getting your heart rate up, sweating, and burning calories—but it’s not as monotonous as logging miles on a treadmill.

“The best exercise is the one with the most pain-free minutes,” says Stanton. You’ll continue to do exercises that don’t feel like a chore, but feel like something you really enjoy, he says. “That’s where VR comes in. It’s fun, so you forget you’re even working out.”

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