Did you know that you can actually get a workout from playing active video games? As the quality of the gaming hardware increases so does the ability to exercise using games. Research showed in the last decade that you can get some moderate-intensity exercise when you play active video games like Wii Sports and Wii Fit. But now we have moved to Virtual Reality (VR), with sensor for your hands, feet, arms, and legs every movement of your body is now input to the game. So, if you struggle to find the motivation to head to the gym or go for a run, you could try learning to box in your living room in a VR gym with Oculus Quest BOXVR. When, you are playing an active video game you get your heart pumping because you are actually boxing.
Playing Active Video Games For Fitness Is Pretty New And Could Be A Cure
You’re probably aware that obesity is a big problem in American. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, about one-third of adults in the United States are overweight and almost one-third are obese. It’s a similar issue in Japan. About 30 percent of middle-aged Japanese men are obese. Twenty years about, it was only 20 percent. That’s why Nintendo funded some research into the health benefits of active video games. The researchers presented their findings at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in 2009.
For the study, the researchers got 12 men and women aged 25 to 44 to test Wii sports and Wii fit. If you’ve ever played either of these games, you know that they use motion-sensing controls to track your movements. The researchers recorded the participants’ energy expenditure as they participated in these active games. To do this, the researchers used a metabolic chamber.
How You Can Measure Energy Expenditure in a Metabolic Chamber
A metabolic chamber is an airtight room that researchers can use to measure how many calories you burn. They circulate fresh air through the chamber and track the ratios of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the air. The researchers can then use that data to calculate the number of calories you burn.
For this study, the researchers used the metabolic chamber to replicate the conditions under which you might play active video games at home. The participants didn’t need to have any extra apparatus hooked up to them to measure their vitals. Instead, the chamber took all the measurements that the scientists needed to calculate the metabolic equivalents of task (METs) that the participants expended.
Zumba Fitness Core Was Likely The Best Wii Fitness Games
Here is a quick video on what Zumba Fitness Core is like. This game is pretty good since it does monitor your movements a little, but nowhere near what VR does. The game does provide you with some feedback, which is more than doing a home Zumba video would do.
Everything You Should Know about METs
METs are basically a measurement of how much energy you expend during a particular activity. METs measure the ratio of your metabolic rate while you’re exercising to your metabolic rate while you’re resting. It’s a great way to measure how much energy you’re using during a workout compared to the amount of energy you use when you’re just sitting still.
According to the American Heart Association, light intensity exercise is any activity that measures under 3 METs. A moderate-intensity workout is 3 to 6 METs, while a strenuous workout is anything over 6 METs. When you walk at 3 miles per hour on a flat surface, you expend about 3.3 METs, so that’s a low-intensity exercise. You can get the most health benefits when you do at least 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week.
What the Researchers Found
Energy expenditure is the best way to measure the effect of active video games. In this study, the researchers calculated the number of METs that the participants expended while they were playing active video games. About one-third of the virtual physical activities in the games require an energy expenditure of 3.0 METs or above. That’s considered moderate-intensity exercise.
Wii Fit offers over 40 different strength training, resistance training, balance, and aerobic exercises. You can use Wii Fit for yoga, push-ups, torso-twists, and single-leg extensions. You’ll get a much higher-intensity workout from the resistance and aerobic exercises than with yoga or balance exercises. However, these lower-intensity exercises can still help improve your flexibility and lower your risk of falling and injuring yourself.
With Wii Fit, the lowest-intensity activity you can do is lotus focus. It requires only 1.3 METs. The highest-intensity activity is the single-arm stand, at 5.6 METs. The single-arm stand is a difficult resistance exercise that requires you to stand up and lie down. The researchers found that out of all the Wii fit activities:
- 5 activities used more than 4 METs
- 9 activities used 3-4 METs
- 23 activities used 2-3 METs
- 9 activities used less than 2 METs
The most effective activity you can do in Wii sports is boxing, which requires about 4.5 METs. You’ll use 3 METs for tennis, 2.6 for bowling, and 2 for golf. Since boxing requires the most METs this is were VR takes over with playing active video games for exercise.
Check Out BOXVR In The Following Video
You can see by her heart rate in the right-hand corner that she is well into the cardio zone. VR games like BOXVR bring in a competition aspect to fitness without having to compete with other people. Although you can compete with others you can also just try to win the game and get high scores. The Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise has many games listed by the number of calories they burn per minute.
How You Can Benefit From Playing Active Video Games
If you play a lot of sedentary video games, you have an increased risk of obesity. You can greatly reduce that risk, though, if you start choosing active video games instead. Maybe it is time for you to buy VR gaming system and improve your fitness. You never know when the Oasis from Ready Player One will be released, and we start living in a VR. Even though a world like the Oasis is still far off, you can still benefit your health by choosing the right video games. And, when you exercise regularly, you’ll reduce your risk of many unwanted health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and a number of metabolic diseases. Eat a healthy diet with enough fiber and good fats and fewer processed foods and unhealthy fats like saturated and trans fats. Combine your healthy diet with at least 1 hour of exercise per day, 4 days a week, and you’ll see amazing results.