Credit to: VR Health Institute

Playing VR fitness games but aren’t sure if you’re doing so efficiently? The VR Health Institute’s new VR Health Exercise app is here to help. Available today in beta on iOS and Android, the app makes use of meticulous research to give you accurate data on the fitness progress you’re making in your virtual reality games.

According to the VR Health Institute, currently calorie trackers used for more general fitness goals don’t work well with newer exercises. Because of this, the information you’re receiving through them might not line up with the calories you’re actually burning. The institute conducted “hundreds of hours” of metabolic testing that was specific to VR, and this has made the app more accurate for calculating calories for individual games.

A different approach

The free VR Health Exercise app backs in a few different main features. It can track your heart rate and calories burnt while playing VR games, pulling data from specific games it has tested. It can also predict future calories burnt based on your current progress. The app will also provide you with a list of new games to try that have fitness elements. These will provide estimated calories burnt, as well, so you can choose new games based on your goals.

In order to make the most of the app, you’ll use a Bluetooth heart rate monitor. This gives the app the biometric data it needs to predict calories burnt in conjunction with a game’s score. The formulas used to calculate these statistics were created only for VR and AR, rather than a catch-all system used by other fitness applications. The institute estimated that only about 15 percent of VR games qualify as “medium-to-vigorous exercise,” so there is a lot to sift through to find a worthwhile game.

Credit to: VR Health Institute

“Without that same data on virtual reality, it’s difficult to accurately predict calorie expenditure from heart rate,” said San Francisco State University assistant professor of kinesiology Dr. Jimmy Bagley in the announcement. “I think tools like this are necessary for VR exercise to continue to grow — to be seen as a common tool for health.”

So, how exactly are exercises measure in this system? The VR Health Institute groups games based on their closest standard exercising equivalent. This includes resting, which only burns 1-2 calories per minutes. Sprinting, meanwhile, can burn more than 15 per minute. Next to the game’s title in the app, you can see the closest sporting equivalent. In the case of Beat Saber, for instance, it’s tennis.

Developers interested in taking part can request to have their own game assigned an exercise rating using the official website. Players who want to learn more can check out the official Discord channel and talk with developers.