When it comes to virtual reality, it’s easy to fall into the stereotype that most users are acne-laden teens donning VR headsets and engaging in childish games. This stereotype is gradually being destroyed day-by-day. The truth about VR is that it has unlimited potential. It is being used to treat PTSD, as an educational tool and even as a means for older adults (and others) to stay active. We recently got a chance to sit down with 67 year old Reddit user, 0ldboy67 who lost 12 pounds in just two months of using his HTC Vive! But that’s not all! He’s noticed a marked improvement in his health, wellness and overall lifestyle. His story is one of many coming out these days and we’re thrilled to tell it.
“I didn’t realize when I got the Vive that it would provide a pretty good workout,” said 0ldboy67. “I got it because I like tech, and ever since the Holodeck on Star Trek I’ve been intrigued by VR.” 0ldboy67 wasn’t in terrible shape when he first started to use VR. He describes his pre-VR condition as “moderate” for his age of 67. He ventures out of the house during the warmer months for rides over and through the surrounding mountains on his electronic bike.
Like many people, 0ldboy67 dislikes the idea of exercising in any old manner just for the sake of being active. He prefers to obtain some sort of fulfillment or enjoyment from physical activity. This is precisely why exercising in virtual reality held such a strong appeal. Though Oldboy has worked out at the gym where he lifted weights, he doesn’t, “like to exercise just for the sake of exercise.”
This Oldboy’s VR Beginnings
The typical 67-year-old would be quite reluctant to dive head-first into a virtual reality experience. Yet Oldboy did just that. He started off with the popular VR game Audioshield and was immediately impressed by its physics and sophistication: “ I remember thinking, this alone justifies the cost of the computer and Vive. It was really wonderful, moving with the music in the virtual environment.”
Audioshield is a rhythm game played on the HTC Vive virtual reality headset. The game is centered on music notes moving toward the player amidst a colorful environment. The player is challenged to stay on beat with the music notes by hitting/shielding those notes with his hands. Audioshield is revered for its synthesis of entertainment with physical activity. Click here for our review.
In order to fully understand virtual reality’s merit in the context of physical fitness, it helps to provide some context for current VR users. In the case of 0ldboy67, he admits that part of his motivation to use VR was to lose weight. It only took two months of VR use for 0ldboy67 to shed a dozen pounds. He credits VR with a portion of that weight loss, stating that he has been “burning perhaps 100 calories more per hour than I would have otherwise, about five days a week. I credit VR with setting a tone of activity that complements and supports my change in nutrition.”
Oldboy’s VR Workout Progression
After testing the VR waters with Audioshield, 0ldboy67 ventured on to other virtual reality titles. He tried Hot Squat, Eleven, Soundboxing and Racket: NX. He also gave Thrill of the Fight and Holopoint a try but decided they were a bit too intense for his aging body. According to 0ldboy67, these two titles required “too much exertion, uncomfortable challenges in terms of things coming at me.” Though these are valid critiques from a retiree, they would be construed as meritorious by most kids, teens and young adults.
0ldboy67 credits VR fitness games with enhancing his flexibility and strength: “The [virtual reality] game playing stretches me as I reach, strengthens my quads as I hunch over and squat, and strengthens my arms as I punch. Too, I think that several games have improved my reflexes and eye/hand coordination.” He goes on to explain the benefits of VR gaming beyond enhanced physical activity: “A great effect of these games is that they often just feel good–there’s a sense of accomplishment and sometimes joy from getting into the flow with music.”
The Matter of VR User Retention
Many wonder whether VR is a novelty that will be short-lived. Some are adamant that it is the type of technology people try once and never return to. When 0ldboy67 was asked about whether he considered quitting, he expressed that he would upgrade his current equipment. Today’s virtual reality technology really is that good. Make no mistake about it, current VR tech is not the same as Nintendo’s failed Virtual Boy console.
A VR Success Story Everyone Should Take Note Of
In the end, it can be said that 0ldboy67’s experience with virtual reality fitness games has been a raging success. Though he has never considered himself to be a gamer and does not have experience with regular PC or console games, he has decided to stick with VR exercise for the long haul: “I plan to continue playing for 30-60 minutes five or six days a week. I’ll upgrade my hardware when new software requires it, and am open to changing platforms as new offerings become available. For instance, Microsoft reportedly will be offering VR and maybe AR in the not too distant future, and I look forward to seeing what games will be available there.”
Though 0ldboy67 has recommended that prospective VR users consider waiting for the next generation of VR gear, he is adamant that the current generation is sufficient for his purposes. He credits the Reddit Vive community with encouraging him to dabble in multiplayer VR environments: “In addition to weight loss and increased fitness, I’ve found stimulating challenges and social connections that I wouldn’t have had without the Vive. It brings joy and fun into my life mostly through the games that join movement with music.”