Facts and Myths About VR Fitness Appeal


That moment when you realize you’re out of shape is a difficult but life-changing one. Doing what it takes to get off the couch and setting a workout routine, in or out of the gym, doesn’t have to be defeating. Exercising with VR is not only exciting and fun, it will make workouts fly by. We’re here to address the myths surrounding VR that are standing between you and your fitness goals, and the facts that will reveal why VR is so effective.

Here are just a few examples of the facts and myths behind VR fitness appeal and why you should really consider VR as an effective fitness tool instead of a roadblock.

Fact: VR Creates New and Interesting Experiences

Credit to: Thrill of the Fight/Ian Fitz

VR creates new and interesting experiences using multiple methods. For instance, the adjustable difficulty in Thrill of the Fight automatically keeps the game in tune with your strength level. The difficulty of opponents and the number of blows to take them down boosts your endurance naturally. There are also several games for any level of fitness experience. You can choose from multiple titles that will push you with light, medium and heavy exercises.

If you’re not inclined to digital fantasy worlds, realistic simulators offer experiences closer to reality. VirZOOM is a good example, where the bike can simulate something like a horseback ride or even just a bike. These experiences that are closer to the real world appeal to the less “game” oriented users.

However you choose to experience fitness in VR, we know for a fact that weight loss in VR is real. If you want real physical results you’ll have to ditch the idea that VR is too goofy for you to do. That mentality can defeat your mission before it even starts. 

Myth: Wearing VR is Embarrassing

Credit: STRIVR

We tackled this one before, but it keeps coming up because many people feel that wearing a headset looks very clunky for exercise. “You want me to put what on my head?” is a thought that comes up for some. This stigma is easy to overcome by simply having guests try on the headset to see how it fits and then turning on a cool experience like Tilt Brush to make them forget about the embarrassment.

Vive and Oculus put a ton of development effort into creating attractive and modern-looking headsets. The Vive is a little on the heavy side for extended use, but it’s a great peripheral. The tracking stations for both occupy minimal space in your home and guests almost wouldn’t know they exist.

Stanford uses STRIVR to improve its coaching program with a setup similar to the one you have at home. Players walk through plays with other athletes and trainers, while coaches can analyze where athletes look at and what they are reacting to in order to teach them how to look differently at the game. Standford teams are using VR with success, so why aren’t you?

Fact: Calorie Loss in VR is Real

Credit to: Life Fitness/VirZOOM

Tim Donahey’s routine demonstrates what is possible when you think outside the box about VR games and start utilizing them as fitness tools. Look for opportunities to turn regular games into fitness experiences, like doing more squats or consistently playing games that require you to get off the couch.

Will Brierly’s weight loss in VirZOOM shows us that VR helps provide us with experiences that keep us coming back and with health benefits that are real and long-lasting with consistency. Try different games and consider Viveport (HTC’s subscription service) if you have access to it with the Vive.

Don’t forget many VR titles are sold as early access. This means they are still in their development phase and will be getting many updates over the course of a development timeline. Don’t discount early access titles, some of the best active VR games got their big break when they were discovered by fans online.

Fact: VR Has a Big Impact on Brain Health

We appreciate that VR inspires innovation and dialogue about mental and physical health. Working at a desk and gaming can contribute to an already extended period of time sitting at a desk or parked on the couch, and in the long term can be just as unhealthy as smoking cigarettes. The fact is that VR helps improve brain health in a variety of ways.

VR can help Parkinson’s patients regain balance, build brain plasticity that helps us to recall and remember skills that were lost or taken from us from disease or age, and even helps assess head trauma.

VR is also becoming a low-cost and helpful tool in hospitals where mobile VR systems allow more patients to experience new worlds with just a smartphone and mobile headset. More and more research is showing that some patients either don’t require medication or use less of it when VR is implemented.

Fact: VR Helps Athletes Recover

VR offers an important leap forward in physical recovery too. Using the range of motion, VRPhysio can create simulations that adjust to a user when they carry out simple tasks that are gamified. Each task stretches what the user can do by just a small amount, which is enough for measurable improvement. One benefit is that the user sees the task completed each time and sees improvements in pain or discomfort.

VR meditation apps also help on days where we need more rest, relaxation, or to improve body and brain health after strenuous workouts. Watching comforting sounds and sights happening in 360 helps VR users to get the most out of each day with true relaxation.

Myth: VR is Dangerous or Addictive

There’s pretty much no evidence to point to anything seriously dangerous in VR. The occasional trip happens to everyone, but punching a TV because you didn’t put your boundaries or guardian system on is completely preventable. 

So, when using VR, practice safety first:

  • VR-proof your room
  • Explore virtual boundaries in a relaxed environment first
  • Play with a partner or use the buddy system
  • Practice top-notch cord management
  • Use an area rug to stay connected to your space

Let’s talk about what it’s like post-VR after your senses have been highly stimulated for a short or long duration of time. VR is extremely immersive, so imagine how you might feel walking into and then out of a sensory deprivation tank or a quiet room.

Emerging from VR might make everything in the real world seem less intense or more so depending on the person. For some people, their eyes just need to adjust or they might have to sit down for a minute. Either way, these sensations are short lived.

Myth: VR Fitness is a One-Stop Solution

Like real fitness, we need to practice good eating habits too. Cut the fast food and the Starbucks runs (even if it’s double star day). Do these first and VR will lead you to lasting improvements that your friends will think were effortless.

Combine VR with the gym for the well-rounded fitness sessions. Do you need a personal trainer? Do you want better form? You can go to a gym and trainer for tailored workouts, but you’re very likely going to see VR technology spring up at local fitness centers. Black Box VR and VirZOOM are two fitness equipment companies that are becoming fixtures at select gyms.

Lastly, explore new games because it’s the only way you will consistently play. The Thrill of the Fight is great and we will recommend it endlessly to anyone who will listen to us, but there are other exercise intense VR games out there too. Fortunately, using our VR Fitness Insider Apple and Android apps will keep you up to date with new game releases weekly. You can also check the Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise for accurate calorie burn counts and intensity comparisons.

Final Thoughts

Taking control of your health by challenging excuses (myths) is a powerful move that will help you see VR as a legit workout that gets results. Virtual reality can help transform your thinking around getting fit as a fun activity that will fuel more workouts and get you out of your comfort zone.