Getting our daily cardio or aerobics training not only helps our bodies stay healthy, it sets us up for success in VR gaming and in our everyday lives. Moving our bodies by jogging, running and walking, pumping our arms, and even rowing and using elliptical machines make VR a cardio playground for new and experienced enthusiasts looking to get in shape.

Getting fit by using virtual reality is a sure fire way to burn off extra energy, to stop huffing and puffing when we race to the ice cream truck, or to deftly maneuver as a top player in a VR game. The emergence of VR connected exercise machines and games also ushers in a new era of cardio for fitness-focused VR fans.

Let’s start off with why we need cardio in our lives and then we’ll tackle how to do it with VR!

Benefits of Cardio

Credit to: Thoroughly Reviewed via Flickr

A VR home gym or carving out space for a workout area is quickly becoming the go-to solution for weight loss, toning, and cardio. All that’s needed is a VR headset like the Vive, Oculus, Windows Mixed Reality, or Gear VR to benefit from cardiovascular exercise.

What will I get out of cardio?

Fired Up Exercise Machines

We can take a scenic hike, walk the block, or go to the gym and exercise on a machine to whip our lungs, heart, and muscles into shape. We’re motivated by the results of feeling and looking better, oh, and that sweet endorphin rush doesn’t hurt either. But what else are we motivated by? The exhilarating and refreshing gameplay of VR — that’s what!

What is gameplay without machine innovation? Fitness machines that are compatible with VR headsets keep its users coming back for more with active gaming experiences. These gamified exercise machines are just as rewarding and captivating to play as they are beneficial for cardio and fitness.

Omnidirectional Treadmills

The prototype of the KAT Walk mini! Credit to: KAT VR

Readers with VR headsets now have more options than ever for cardio and achieving their fitness goals. Omnidirectional treadmills, or ODT’s in short, are platforms that VR users are able to walk, jog, and play in 360-degrees with special shoes and a slick plate beneath them. ODT’s range in size from a few feet wide and some can even take up the space of a small room.

Versions like the KAT Walk mini, Virtuix Omni, and the Wizdish ROVR are the best option for players, gyms, and arcades to elevate VR games from active to cardio intensity. Instead of standing in one place or using the limited space of your play area (room scale), these ODT’s allow the player to walk or run in place to move and interact within VR games with controllers.

This movement heavy locomotion option and fitness machine not only makes playing VR games more enjoyable and hyper-realistic, ODT’s turn them into fat-blasting cardio! Being able to play Sairento VR on the Kat Walk mini, QuiVr on the Virtuix Omni, or PC and VR games on any of the two ROVR ODT’s is changing how VR owners, gym clients, and arcade visitors get cardio!

Rowing, Ellipticals, and Stationary Bikes

Credit to: Holodia

What’s cardio without traditional exercise machines? Rowing, ellipticals, and stationary bikes got a complete revamp by Holodia’s Holofit line of VR enabled machines. They’ve got gym life and cardio covered! This fitness company gamified their machines and sends gym users into the zone with Holoworld games. The games challenge exercisers physically as they do rowing reps or pedal on the bike or elliptical to soar across the sky.

Another stationary bike company, VirZOOM, is turning wheels in gyms that have their hand on the pulse of technology. Since they’ve partnered with Life Fitness, the gold standard for gym bikes, VirZOOM has gamified the upright and recumbent stationary bikes with their own games. Spinning with the resistance on will set your thighs and hamstrings on fire when you ride a mythical flying horse, collect gems, or become a wrangler of banditos. Players have been known to spend hours playing their games and one such player losing 50 pounds!

Fitness Games for Cardio

VR has awesome side effects on its users like shaping up and slimming down with active games in VR. Robert Long had a very impressive 138-pound weight loss from Beat Saber! Restoring self-confidence, feeling like a warrior, or having a more positive outlook on life like Jonathan Voudrie, are extra amazing outcomes of playing high energy games in virtual reality.

Active games that double as cardio are a must if you’re looking to drop weight or build up your endurance. Natural locomotion is famously done by the multiplayer racing game Sprint Vector with “Fluid Locomotion”. Players pump their arms to race around intergalactic race maps with platforms to race and jump onto with specialized arm movement and controller mechanics.

Cardio games that use arm swinging movement or natural locomotion:

  • For the arcade fan who likes to compete against AI challengers as they collect coins and weave around obstacles: Play Dash Dash Run
  • For the indie game collector with a Gear VR who also wants a game that promotes cardio as you hop on an elliptical or exercise bike, collect items, and listen to music: Play AchieVRfit
  • For the VR pirate looking for a 4v4 multiplayer game that will have you running around a ship as open sea battles rage on: Play Crooked Waters
  • For the soccer/football fan who wants to break away from sedentary console gaming with arms swinging movement and controller mechanics: Play Football Nation VR
  • For the virtual cowboy or western fan looking to get some cardio in while befriending a trusty steed and having shootouts with banditos: Play Hopalong: The Badlands (jump up and down to move)
  • For the mages and spellcasters looking for a game that will have you casting, conjuring, and running around maps with arm locomotion: Play Deplau