If you’re a fitness novice looking for a way to dip your toe into the world of virtual reality fitness it might be tempting to start out with games that are often cited as giving the “best workout,” but what’s best for some may be too strenuous for others. My advice to newcomers is not to do the VR equivalent of what a lot of people do their first time at the gym, namely by trying to test your physical limits and loading up the most weight you can on the barbell and then using poor form at the risk of injury struggling it upwards. These people often overextend themselves and then give up altogether because it results in a bad experience. In VR, as in the gym, it’s always best to start light and work your way up.
If on the other hand, you’ve been conducting VR workouts for a while, a lower intensity routine can be very beneficial for providing active recovery from your tougher workouts and as an alternative to taking a dedicated “rest day.” In fact, exercising in a lower heart rate range can be even more productive than just resting because it has the added benefit of overall restoration by circulating blood and delivering oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and connective tissues that need it the most.
Here’s a low-intensity VR workout that anyone can use. Even if you’re confined to a chair, there are a couple of options here that will work for you.
15 Min: QuiVR
QuiVR is a castle defense game where you can teleport to different nodes to get a better shot at the encroaching hoards with your bow and arrow. There’s not a whole lot of movement, but just keeping your bow arm outstretched tests your muscular endurance while your off hand loads up another arrow. Try switching bow hands for a more symmetrical workout.
15 Min: Fruit Ninja
Fruit Ninja is often the first game I show people when introducing VR fitness to people for their first time and it can even be done seated. It doesn’t hurt that the game has immediate recognition from those who have played the mobile variant and the gameplay largely unchanged: slice fruit and avoid bombs. I suggest doing the arcade mode. Try and get the furthest range of motion by swinging your arms in a wide arc. When a “fruit frenzy” gets initiated by slicing the zig-zagged bananas this is a great opportunity to really pump your arms more quickly like you’re making a mid-air samurai fruit smoothie.
15 Min: Audioshield
Nothing gets people moving better than music and Audioshield takes that one step further by translating those notes into colorful orbs that you’ll block with the corresponding colored shield. Casual Mode offers a more relaxed experience here compared to the harder difficulty modes. Choose a song that makes you want to dance, you’re only limited by YouTube’s expansive catalog. You can either punch the careening orbs or just be fluidly blocking the beats by keeping your arms outstretched. Like Fruit Ninja, this game can also be done seated.
15 Min: Holoball
Holoball is a cross between racquetball and Pong where you’ll be trying to outpace the computer AI by hitting the ball beyond its reach. You can go with either Zen or Easy modes here. Zen mode takes the AI opponent out of the equation, and you’ll just need to keep the ball in play. Feel free to strike the ball with your paddle as hard or as gently as you wish, even bunting if you prefer.
Whether you’re a newcomer to VR fitness or a seasoned veteran, there’s a lot of good reasons why a low-intensity VR workout may be just what the doctor ordered.
We’d love to hear from some beginners – or active recoverees – how you liked it. Let us know in the comments!