More than one-third (36.5%) of adults in the U.S. are considered obese. Some obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, and these are a few of the leading causes of preventable death. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.
If everyone would just work out regularly we could solve all of this and save a lot of lives, right? This may be so, but for millions of people, this is easier said than done. Fitness isn’t just a sprint, it’s more like a marathon. It’s a journey with many pitfalls along the way. To the average person, fitness is a chore. It isn’t fun and people don’t have the time or motivation to get to the gym on a regular basis. So where do we turn for a solution?
“To the average person, fitness is a chore. It isn’t fun and people don’t have the time or motivation to get to the gym on a regular basis.”
Some companies are turning to new technologies, like virtual reality, to get people moving and curb the obesity epidemic. After all, virtual reality has the ability to transport you to entirely new worlds that are limited by nothing more than your imagination. If there is anything that has the potential to make fitness fun, it’s virtual reality.
However, virtual reality products and experiences available today offer very little practical use for fitness, aside from some fleeting cardio elements. We consistently turn to technology to solve our health and fitness problems only to be disappointed again and again. The fitness industry has long been plagued with gimmick products focused on generating short-term profits, blatantly ignoring the creation of real results for people looking to live healthier lives. Something is still missing and we are tired of waiting.
But how do we have time to workout when we are busy playing video games? 63% of U.S. households are home to at least one person who plays video games regularly (3 hours or more per week). Compare that to what the Mayo Clinic recommends: the average adult should exercise 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity a day or 1.25 hours of vigorous aerobic activity a week. But we are full of excuses like, “oh, I just want to relax” and “I just can’t find the time.” If we could get people to spend more time exercising and less time sitting on the couch playing games, we could start making a dent in the rapid growth of obesity.
“63% of U.S. households are home to at least one person who plays video games regularly (3 hours or more per week). The average adult should exercise 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity a day or 1.25 hours of vigorous aerobic activity a week”
I believe a paradigm shift is coming. The combination of fitness, virtual reality and gaming will be the innovative combination needed to stop the epidemic once and for all. By combining the immersive nature of virtual reality with the addictive nature of games, the best fitness trainers and game developers will create experiences in the future that make fitness fun and encourage us to develop healthy habits. Instead of sitting on the couch, instead of looking in the mirror and doing another 3 sets of 10 reps, bored out of our minds, we’ll be champions of worlds. Every physical movement we make in reality will be mapped to the virtual. We’ll be fighting battles in imaginative worlds with our friends by our sides, with crowds shouting our names. We’ll be addicted to living a healthy life, and it’ll be a blast.