If you think virtual reality is only for young and hip “gamers,” think again. It’s no longer just a shoot ’em dead, drive ’em fast, PAC-MAN world. I’ve never been a fan of video games, and before last Christmas, a virtual reality (VR) system didn’t interest me in the least. But when my husband, the toughest person on my holiday shopping list, saw a commercial for the Oculus Quest and casually said, “That looks cool,” I decided to give it a chance. Less than a year later, I’m not sure whose gift it was. He loves it, but so do I!
The CDC reports that less than twenty-three percent of adults in the United States meet the recommended amount of physical activity: 150 minutes of moderate or seventy-five minutes of vigorous exercise a week. (Break it down—that’s only twenty-one minutes of vigorous exercise a day.) I’ve always been active in the warmer months but failed miserably in colder weather. Until now. After six weeks of virtual exercise (in the dead of winter) I was down ten pounds. The best part? I loved it and was actually looking forward to my morning workouts.
I used to hate sweating, but not anymore. This fun activity gets my heart rate up faster than any other thing I’ve ever tried—without the pain. Completely engaged in my virtual world, I lose track of time and find an endurance I never knew I had. Twenty-one minutes of vigorous exercise a day is nothing; I easily (and happily) sweat through forty minutes in what feels like ten.
The benefits don’t stop there. I have become a better water drinker. I don’t have to get up at an obscene hour to squeeze in a workout. I don’t have to get into a cold car, wear sneakers, dress in a matchy workout outfit or apply makeup (these are my most common excuses for avoiding the gym).
VR not only allows you to burn calories, but to adventure and explore. My personal app of choice on Oculus is Beat Saber, but there’s also boxing (Creed), FitXR, Dance Central, SuperNatural, and more. These apps are typically one-time purchases (similar to buying games for PlayStation); a few require subscriptions.
When I put the headset on, I’m transported to faraway lands, able to meditate, fish, or swim in the ocean’s depths. Thrill-seekers not prone to motion sickness should try the rollercoasters. Social butterflies can utilize Facebook and other online groups to dance in bars or make friends. Especially in a time of social isolation, perhaps VR can bring people together and ease pangs of loneliness.
Of course, there is the concern of cost—I paid $299.00 for the system. That seems like a bit of an investment (because it is), but calculate the cost of a gym membership, gas, exercise clothes, and most importantly, your priceless time, and it’s worth it.
Exercising with technology may not immediately appeal to some but give it a chance. It can make your life more efficient and free up time for the important off-screen things like family, friends, and beautiful sunsets.
VR makes me feel as if I can be anywhere, doing anything. My arms are beginning to resemble those of the amazing warrior I have become in my virtual world and my back fat rolls are melting away. I look forward to an even leaner me in the coming year, and to all of the adventures I’ll have along the way.
Catherine Stack is owner, facilitator, and Doctor of Naturopathy at Journey II Health. She specializes in colon health and bio-identical hormone replacement and is a practicing staff midwife at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital. Her books, Free Yourself from a CONSTIPATED Life and PUSH, Labor & Delivery from the Inside Out are available on amazon.com. Visit cathistack.com for more info.