Most people still have the mindset that video games involve little to no physical exertion.  Thanks to the introduction of VR technologies and virtual reality fitness, that way of thinking is being turned on its head.  VR games are not only fun and entertaining, but they can also be a great way to get some exercise as well.  Below is everything you need to know on how to build your very own to state-of-the-art VR fitness calorie burning machine.

VR Headset

HMD's for VR fitness

You can’t experience virtual reality without an HMD (head mounted display), and not all headsets are created equal when it comes to VR fitness.  If you only have the budget for a mobile VR device then look to Daydream by Google.  The Daydream is perhaps the lightest, best looking and most comfortable HMD on the market.  It also comes with a handy little remote allowing you to navigate virtual spaces.  

Although you can get your hands on a mobile VR device for a lot less than some higher end systems, there are a few tradeoffs.  For instance you will have to purchase a Daydream compatible phone like the Pixel or Moto Z.  Also, current mobile VR units do not provide users with Six Degrees of Freedom (6DOF) that higher end units offer.  Lastly, there isn’t a great deal of mobile content that call for vigorous movement, but getting off the couch and moving in any capacity is always preferable to just sitting still.

If you are looking to get a more capable unit then check out the Oculus Rift or HTC VIVE.  Both the Rift and VIVE have a great deal of content to choose from and come with two controllers and tracking sensors right out of the box.  The tracking technology gives users the freedom to move around in any direction within the play space, as well as utilize their hands and arms to interact with objects in most VR experiences.

Computer

Pretty much everyone nowadays has a Mac or PC.  Unfortunately however, even if you have a newer laptop or desktop, if it’s not VR ready your chances of successfully running the appropriate software are slim.  If you aren’t lucky enough to own one already you have plenty of options to choose from.  The good news is that you can pick up a VR ready computer for less than a thousand bucks.  The bad news is that given the current rate in which VR software and hardware are progressing, a lower-end unit might not run newer content six to eight months down the road.  It might be wise to spend a bit more and make sure that your computer will still work fine several years from now.

Great mid-priced VR ready PC
Alienware Aurora

Content

There are plenty of VR games and experiences available on the Steam and Oculus stores, but finding one that gets you moving enough to activate your muscles in any significant way while also getting your heart rate up can be difficult.  The games below have been assessed for their exercise value and you can be sure that they will get you feeling the burn.  If you want to learn more about these games or others check out our game reviews page here.

Peripherals

If you want to take your virtual reality fitness routine up a notch, consider adding complimentary hardware such as a VR exercise bike, heart rate monitor, weighted vest and/or gloves.  With these add-ons you will not only maximize the fitness benefits of each gaming session, but also increase the likelihood that you are active on a much more regular basis.

Virtual reality fitness accessory
VirZoom sensor turns any bike into a VirZoom bike

Miscellaneous

There are a few small things that are relatively cheap in comparison with some of the other items outlined in this guide but they are worth their weight in gold.  Unless you were born without sweat glands you will want to grab a headband or bandana.  These do a great job of preventing sweat from penetrating the interior of the HMD and interfering with the users field of view.  A wrangler system is also a must have if you plan on being very active wile in VR.  A wrangler helps keep the cord connecting the HMD to the computer suspended above the user, and pretty much eliminates tripping hazards.  Lastly, disinfecting wipes are a great thing to have around and will keep the foam face guard attached to the HMD fresh and clean.

Retractable cables
Cable management accessories

Now you should be able to build your virtual reality fitness machine with relative ease.  The best part is that unlike other home exercise equipment that is directed towards adults, a virtual reality system can be utilized by the entire family.  Here’s to many hours of active living room fun.

 

 

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  • ale bro

    what’s the best heart rate monitor to use in VR? I want one if it links directly to the PC and doesn’t need a phone to make it work.