What a difference 50 days of effort can do!

The vision of virtual reality in Science Fiction has nearly always been of a medium that turns people sedentary but this has not proved to be the case in VR’s recent renaissance. VR has taken over in many unexpected ways, most recently in the realm of fitness. VR engages the user physically, requiring action and reaction. Instead of relying on thumb strength to move the sticks, modern gamers are immersed in virtual sword fighting, boxing, and shooting, effectively completing a full body workout.

Recently, reddit user, Tim Donahey AKA u/leppermessiah1, decided to create a 50-day fitness challenge for himself using VR to test its effectiveness and the results were astonishing.

The VR challenge!
The VR challenge!

 

Early in August, Donahey shared that his challenge was inspired by a comment from UFC Host and podcaster, Joe Rogan, that future gamers might be some of the most fit people from playing with VR. After strapping up a heart moniter and clocking in just over an hour with his HTC Vive, Donahey was amazed to learn that he had burned nearly 900 calories.

After this initial session, Donahey planned out a more rigorous weekly schedule and stats. For example, here is his synopsis for week one:

My workout:

  • 10 min: The Lab’s Longbow (Warmup)
  • 20 min: Thrill of the Fight
  • 20 min: Holopoint (Squat to dodge)
  • 10 min: Holoball (cooldown pace)

Here are the results so far:

  • Starting Weight: 180.4 lbs
  • Current Weight: 176.3 lbs
  • Waist: 39.25 in. (Down 3/4 in)

Weekly Weight Loss: 4.1 lbs

Total Weight Loss: 4.1 lbs

% of Goal (14.3 lbs): 29%

Some additional weekly data:

Total sessions of high-intensity VR training: 5

Total hours of high-intensity VR training (including warmups and cooldown): ~5:26

Average calories burned per session: 797 kcal.

Donahey also related that his goal for 50-day challenge was to “lose weight and increase fitness using nothing more than VR conducted at a high intensity pace, some walking, and good nutrition.” The main idea is to see how beneficial a VR fitness routine could be without changing one’s lifestyle too drastically.

By week 4, Donahey had reached his halfway point and had come up with some new modifications to his routine. Here are his stats from week four:

  • My workout:
  • 10 min: Audioshield (Warmup)
  • 20 min: Thrill of the Fight
  • 20 min: Holopoint (Squat to dodge)
  • 10 min: Holoball (cooldown pace)

Here are the results so far:

  • Starting Weight: 180.4
  • Current Weight: 170.6 lbs
  • Waist: 38 in. (Down 1/2 in. from last week, 2 inches total)

Weekly Weight Loss: 1.9 lbs

Total Weight Loss: 9.6 lbs

% of Goal Completed (of 14.3lbs): 67%

Additional Weekly Data

Total sessions of high-intensity VR training: 5

Total hours of high-intensity VR training (including warmups and cooldown): ~5:18

Average calories burned per session: 699 kcal. (Up 3 kcal from last week)

Weighted Vest: 15 lbs.

It’s interesting to note that Donahey added in a weighted vest to the routine. Adding the vest is to combat a training plateau, which is when the body becomes “used” to the strenuousness of an exercise and doesn’t need to expend as much energy to complete the exercise. Donahey writes, “I’m glad to see that the calorie burns have evened out over the past couple of weeks after declining in the first two, and I think I partly have the weighted vest to thank for that. I’ve creeped up to an additional 15 lbs now and it’s definitely notched up the intensity a bit.”

At the end of his 50-day challenge, Donahey is much further from where he started at the beginning with the first VR fitness session. Here are the stats from week 6:

The Workout:

  • 10 min: Audioshield (Warmup)
  • 20 min: Thrill of the Fight
  • 20 min: Holopoint (Squat to dodge)
  • 10 min: Holoball (cooldown pace)

The Results So Far:

  • Starting Weight: 180.4
  • Current Weight: 168.2 lbs
  • Waist: 37.0 in. (Down 1/2 in. from last week, 3 inches total)

Weekly Weight Loss: 0.0 lbs

Total Weight Loss: 12.2 lbs

% of Goal Completed (of 14.3lbs): 84%

Additional Weekly Data:

Total sessions of high-intensity VR training: 5

Total hours of high-intensity VR training (including warmups and cooldown): ~5:25

Average calories burned per session: 717 kcal. (Up 5 kcal from last week)

Weighted Vest: 17.5 lbs. (same weight as last week)

(before and after the 50-day VR Fitness challenge)

A pretty obvious improvement!
A pretty obvious improvement!

The amazing aspect of the 50-day VR fitness challenge is how well suited it is for participants to monitor their progress. Donahey made it a point to specifically track his heart rate during training sessions. He says, “I use a Polar H7 heart rate monitor, which is purportedly one of the more accurate, especially as compared to optical heart rate monitors found on most smart watches and fitness bands.”

Probably the most impressive aspect of the 50-day VR fitness challenge is how accessible it is to other VR enthusiasts. As VR technology becomes more available, people from all over can contribute to projects like these. Donahey writes in his Final Results:

“I can think of no better way to return this incredible gift than to share it with as many people as I can. Our VR Fitness Group now numbers over 40 members. New VR fitness challenges are starting to crop up and people are seeing results. In the future, I believe that gamers will be some of the fittest people on the planet. The future starts now.”

Indeed, the future starts now and it is inspiring to see people band together using VR to achieve their fitness goals. Anyone interested in doing the challenge and finding more information can join Donahey and others in their myfitnesspal group.

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