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How Gaming in Virtual Reality Can Help You Get Healthy

Jesse Hoyt

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Can you get fit by gaming in VR? Everyone has thought about this in passing. Maybe you’ve even fantasized about getting in shape just by playing your favorite game in virtual reality. Many will be happy to find out that VR can definitely be an excellent addition to your daily health routine.

Virtual Reality for Weight Loss

We know for sure that virtual reality definitely burns calories off at a comparative rate as other exercises (as long as you’re standing and continually moving). The Virtual Reality Health Institute tells us that games like Beat Saber have a similar calorie-burning rate as tennis with 6-8 calories being burned per minute. That means you can burn between 180 and 240 calories per half-hour session. This data does come with stipulations though. You’ll need to be playing at Expert or higher to achieve this rate, which isn’t as tough as it sounds once you get the hang of it. As it relates to weight loss, it can help but isn’t likely to be the main physical driver towards weight loss. However, playing Beat Saber and a clean diet is a killer combo for weight loss.


What About Cardiovascular Health?

Now, this is another story. You can improve your cardiovascular health with VR for sure! Based on the results from the VRHI many virtual reality games are capable of competing with traditional cardio exercises. Thrill of the Fight is an excellent example of a game that is essentially just as good as the “real thing.” As a Muay Thai practitioner myself, I can attest to the relatively realistic mechanics of the game and the fantastic workouts you get from Thrill of the Fight. Shadowboxing (an extremely common form of solo training) and Thrill of the Fight are identical in terms of heart rate and cardio strain. Headsets and controllers even add a small amount of extra weight for the player. You’re certain to work up a sweat with games like this. Doctors recommend that everyone get about 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week and if you like VR, you know that 150 minutes is nothing. 

How Does VR Actually Stack Up?

While VR certainly qualifies as good cardio, it does lack in a couple of areas. The biggest issue is that you’re not quite as likely to get full-body workouts like running or tennis. Some titles are active enough with players crouching or sidestepping frequently but most are solely based on upper-body movements. You’ll still be burning calories, but you won’t always be exercising all of your muscle groups. The second problem is becoming increasingly less prevalent, but it’s worth mentioning. Wires and cords can severely limit movement and even break parts of your headsets during vigorous exercise, but this becomes less problematic as we keep getting wireless systems.

The Bottom Line

All-in-all, virtual reality provides a frankly amazing way to exercise and burn calories. It shouldn’t be written off and should actually be a selling point of these systems. Developments like VR treadmills could even turn virtual reality games into one of the absolute best forms of exercise available.

After turning away from professional cooking, I refocused my efforts on something I love: writing. I can’t get enough of it. Copywriting, content writing, novels? Count me in. I have quite an array of writing interests, but right now I’m loving gaming and virtual reality, and I can’t wait to do more.

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The Best Oculus Exclusives Out Now

Jesse Hoyt

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We all know systems having exclusives can be pretty annoying and divide up a game’s player base. All-in-all they might not be such a good thing, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some excellent exclusives out there. Oculus is one of those platforms known for its exclusivity, and they have some really great games.

5. Stormland

If you’ve ever wanted to be a sentient robot with guns, Stormland might be a game that’s right for you. It offers lush and detailed environments and frantic gunplay. You can also scale walls like spiderman to solve puzzles. It feels a little bit older (even after only 2 years), but there’s no shortage of fun in this game.


4. Robo Recall

Robot games are popular for VR apparently, but Robo Recall is on here for a reason. If you’re looking for pure fun, this is it. This is a frenetic first-person shooter where you fight waves of robots. You can look forward to abilities like catching a bullet mid-air and throwing it back at an enemy. This game doesn’t take itself too seriously and is loads of arcadey fun. It’s definitely an easy purchase if you just want to have some straight-up fun.

3. The Climb

The Climb is an OG oculus exclusive with a release date back in 2016. It’s about what you expect: a climbing game. The only thing is that it’s done exceptionally well. Scaling walls in VR is equal parts unnerving and amusing. You’ll visit plenty of gorgeous locales like the Alps and the Grand Canyon. The visuals in these levels are breathtaking too, even by the standards of today’s virtual reality games.

2. Lone Echo

Lone Echo is one of those games that sticks with you for a while. You get to explore and immerse yourself in the isolation of space (as a robot). This game leans heavily on its incredibly written narrative and gameplay despite the fact that there’s little to no combat. The real star of the show here is the atmosphere though. The emptiness of space and absolute cosmic horrors that play out in the story are truly incredible experiences that you won’t want to miss.

1. Asgard’s Wrath

Asgard’s Wrath is not only an amazing exclusive, it just might be one of the best virtual reality games period. You’ll find yourself playing a Norse god inhabiting the bodies of warriors fighting through 5 separate story quests, all on the behalf of Loki. The combat is primarily based on sword swinging, bow shooting, and magic casting, and boy is it satisfying. Not to mention the incredible lore seeping out of every corner of this game, all leading up to these incredible set pieces where you battle actual gods. You’ll also be able to get into a fairly robust system of weapon upgrading packaged with a fleshed-out scavenging mechanic. Anyone who picks this game up is sure to enjoy it from start to finish. That’s because Asgard’s Wrath feels like a full game instead of just another “virtual reality” experience.

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Virtual Reality’s Role in Modern Education

Jesse Hoyt

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Virtual reality has been on the scene for a few years at this point. It has served as an entertainment medium for most of its life, however, like some flat-screen games (think Arma 3), many sectors are starting to see potential in this technology for education and job training. We’ve already been able to observe police forces using virtual reality to simulate high-stress environments to provide a more realistic experience for law enforcement. Along the same lines, the medical field has slowly been adopting virtual reality for surgical training and general observation. Education may prove to be another sector that adopts virtual reality. 

Rise in Popularity and Adoption

Virtual reality may just be one of the most engaging ways to help kids and teenagers learn in a way that keeps them focused and invested in learning. This new interest in virtual reality has certainly been accelerated by Covid-19’s impact on education and the world at large. Even with heightened interest because of the pandemic, you might be surprised that we’ve seen some use of virtual reality in education since 2012. Now, VR headsets are smaller, lighter, and more affordable making them a more viable learning tool than ever.


Making Learning Fun

The learning potential of VR is virtually infinite since there are so many scenarios where the education experience can be elevated by the use of a virtual reality headset. Students are able to view the Milky Way Galaxy. They’re able to walk amongst the planets and stop to take a closer look to learn more about them. Previously, students would only be able to view planets and stars on a 2-D plane, not including telescopes.

History classes could be enhanced by having students visit the locations they’re talking about. They’d be able to observe historical battles and other events like the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  

Additionally, virtual reality provides a more active way to learn. This is especially helpful for students who learn things by performing an action rather than reading, watching, or listening. This would help address a vital issue that schools with a binary teaching system suffer from. Virtual reality can help create a more well-rounded system for students of all types.

Perhaps the most overlooking would be the unlimited potential in helping students develop their creativity with virtual reality apps like Tilt Brush. VR would be able the stoke the embers of a child’s mind.

With all these ways to make learning fun, we can expect students to potentially fall in love with learning again and repair the education system’s reputation for being “soul-sucking.”


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The Best Virtual Reality Add-ons

Jesse Hoyt

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Virtual Reality is pretty great in its own right, but you can further improve your experience by grabbing some additions to make your time in VR more comfortable and fun.

Gunstocks

There’s no doubt that shooters are one of the absolute biggest genres in VR. They’re fun, work well in virtual reality, and are great for some social interaction. The only issue is that two-handed guns can be somewhat “immersion-breaking” since you can’t place the stock against your shoulder. Long-distance shooting can be too difficult for this reason, but there’s a fix for that! A VR gunstock fitted to your controllers makes up for the lack of shoulder stock, allowing you to brace and have steady aim. The best part is that these VR gunstocks can usually be found for less than $100.


Power Banks

Virtual reality is continually shifting towards wireless headsets. That means you’ll need to be charging your headset every few hours. Have to stop playing VR to get your headset charged up can be somewhat of a hassle. Luckily, power banks are easily (and cheaply) found. You’ll be able to get a second full charge from these batteries and play for a lot longer without interruption. You can jerry-rig a regular battery pack to your headset, but power banks made for VR headsets are just as easily obtained. You’ll only be spending between $25 and $100 to get one.

Knuckles Controller Straps

If you’re a fan of virtual reality, you’re sure to know all about the Valve Index and its stellar controllers. You don’t need to physically hold them; you just need to strap them to your hands. They also track individual fingers. You can get somewhat close to that by purchasing knuckles controller straps to mimic the Index’s handling. It may seem simple, but not having to grasp a controller all the time really adds to the immersion. Unfortunately, there’s no finger tracking for these, but then again who has $1000 to drop on a VR headset right now. Knuckle straps however are dirt cheap at less than $20 for a pair.

Pulley’s

If you have a wired VR headset at home you know the struggle of getting tangled up in some wires. It’s not fun, especially when you’re flailing around with a $400+ piece of equipment. Pulley systems were almost immediately being used when VR came to the public. They hold your wires up to your ceiling to prevent you from snagging a cord or getting tangled up, plus it just gives an overall more organized look to everything. These can be purchased for cheap at basically any big retailer, but you can go even cheaper by building your own pulley system. Either way, you’ll end up with better cable management and less of a playspace hazard.

And More!

There’s a never-ending list of accessories that can enhance your virtual reality experience; These are just the best of the best. Most of these are relatively affordable too! So explore what else VR has to offer and find something you like.

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