Virtual exercise in the gym
Going to the gym can be something that many people find a gruelling experience. It takes time and effort, it often hurts, and it can be extremely tedious. Most weight-related exercises are a combination of sets and reps. In order to see any significant change from any one exercise, it will probably need to be repeated six to eight times, for a minimum of three sets, for about three months. Then there's cardio. For some, there's nothing more boring than endless miles spent running on a treadmill.
But what if there were a way to alleviate the boredom of exercise while still getting a good work out? Luckily for us, there's virtual reality.
In the past, "playing video games was a sedentary experience," says Jo Stauffer of the VR Health Institute, "but VR changes all of that". He says that the room-scale experience engages your body in full.
Many VR games are played while standing. In order to play properly, the player is forced to move around swinging their arms or using their legs. After an hour of this on a regular enough basis, it's not surprising that many people unexpectedly find themselves a little fitter. There are already a number of virtual reality games which, deliberately or not, result in their player 'getting a good sweat on' if played for enough time. For example, there's a first person shooter which forces the player to sidestep, duck and dodge incoming projectiles. That's cardio. Or there's a music game which forces players to shadowbox in order to hit the notes - that's an upper-body workout.
The potential for VR to help people get fit has been noticed by one company. They want to take the whole experience into the gym. They are making a bespoke resistance machine, designed to be used in combination with a VR headset. Players challenge a virtual opponent in a series of games, which results in a 30-minute full-body work out. However, the cost of the equipment is expensive and there are safety concerns to be worked out, says J P Gownder from the consultancy Forrester. So don't hang up your gym shorts just yet.
Although it's early days, for those of us who struggle to overcome the tedium of exercise, a new solution could be coming. And a world where a person can exercise and have fun at the same time might be something that many people would want - virtual or not.
a gruelling experience
get a sweat on
don't hang up your gym shorts