Want to exercise, but stuck at home? Virtual reality (VR) offers numerous ways to exercise and get fit, for anyone who cannot make the journey to the gym. Whether it is BOXVR or OhShape, fitness experiences help get the blood pumping, burn calories, and tone the body. Virtual Perceptions has compiled a list of the best VR fitness games across the Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift S, Valve Index, PlayStation VR (PSVR), and the HTC VIVE.

To navigate and find out more about the headset you own, click on the item in the Table of Contents and navigate from there.

Choose your VR headset, streach your muscles, and get exersising.

Can you get fit in virtual reality?

Compare VR fitness games to most other forms of exercise – running, swimming, sports – and it may seem ludicrous to think that they are comparable. It is clear that, in many cases, going to the gym or outside would be more beneficial, and no scientific studies have proven its power over alternative methods. That said, titles have shown benefits in alternative ways.

Anecdotal evidence have shown players lose weight over time while playing titles like BOXVR or Beat Saber, if played consistently. The evidence shows that, at the very least, VR games can help burn calories and improve cardiovascular health. If supported alongside more mainstream forms of exersise, VR can help improve health.

Which VR headset is the best for fitness games?

Like choosing between Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, there is a choice between platforms for VR fitness games. These choices normally come down to personal choice, finances, and software.

Similar to the console market, the choice is dependent on the consoles. There is no clear and direct answer, as it is dependent on the priorities of the players. The general rule is that if you are already a dedicated PC player, then the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift S would be your best bets. Otherwise, the standalone Oculus Quest would be well-suited for most people.

HTC VIVE

The HTC VIVE, HTC VIVE Cosmos, and HTC VIVE Pro are high-end VR headsets for hardcore fans. The VR headset offers room-scale VR where players can walk around and interact with objects. These experiences are incredibly realistic, requiring a powerful PC to run and sensors to be set up around a room.

While expensive, it provides plenty of value with its VIVEPORT subscription. For a monthly cost, HTC users can access plenty of titles on the store page, much like Netflix. While the cost of the PC is high, the difference can be compensated by lower software costs.

Some of the best VR fitness games are already available on the system and its stores, and it is a great place to pick up the top experiences on any VR system.

Playable games:

  • OhShape
  • Synth Riders

Oculus Rift S

Owned by Facebook and a successor to the Oculus Rift, the Oculus Rift S is a VR headset which offers realistic experiences. The system requires a powerful PC and sensors on a desk to run, and players can interact with virtual environments with 6DoF controllers.

Like the HTC VIVE, the Oculus Rift S can offer room-scale VR by adding a new sensor for a small cost, letting people roam around a virtual space and interact. While this is not necessary for VR fitness games, it opens the door for some of the best titles in the market.

Playable games:

  • OhShape
  • Synth Riders
  • Dance Central
  • BOXVR

Oculus Quest

The Oculus Quest is a standalone VR headset released in Spring 2019. The headset requires no cables or external trackers, giving players the freedom to bring the headset anywhere for fun and games. As a powerful PC is not required to play, it is the most accessible form of VR available.

The Oculus Quest has its own store for content, and not all games on the Rift S is available. Before buying a headset for a particular game, make sure to do some research.

While the Oculus Quest has a lower price-point, it sacrifices graphics for accessibility. As it runs on mobile graphics, it is not up to bar with its brothers and sisters. But for those who want an intuitive and fun experience for less cash, it does a great job. It is also a headset I personally recommend for the best of all worlds in VR.

Playable games:

  • OhShape
  • Synth Riders
  • Dance Central
  • BOXVR
  • Guided Tai Chi

PlayStation VR (PSVR)

Played with the PS4 or PS4 Pro, the PlayStation VR is a great headset for those who already have the games console. It just needs Sony’s console to run, as opposed to a powerful PC.

However, some experiences are not as good as the HTC or Oculus headsets. While it is ‘good enough’ for many software titles, users may be able to tell the difference between the realistic shooting games on PCs, and the muddier graphics on the home console. There are also rumours that the PSVR 2 is coming in 2020 as well, so waiting may be a great strategy.

Playable games:

  • BOXVR

Valve Index

The Valve Index is a top-of-the-line VR headset. Similar to the HTC VIVE and Oculus Rift S, it plays the most graphically-intensive games via a PC.

The main draw of the headset is the knuckle controllers. Instead of holding an item, players can use their fingers to grip objects in the virtual world. The control method gives more complexity and depth, such as feeling along with a crowbar. The controllers can also be used with other headsets, in case others may be interested in trying it out. The haptic feedback improves the experience.

Playable games:

  • Synth Riders
  • BOXVR

OhShape

You know those Japanese game shows where users stand on a platform, and foam walls with human-shaped cutouts move towards them? Then players have to match the standing shapes, or risk crashing into the water? OhShape is like that, only geared towards fitness.

Players dip, dive, and weave through each level, either punching points or matching their body to the shapes that fly towards them. The game offers a full exercise, as players stretch and twist their way to the finish line. The songs are not diverse – all are thumping beats that fit a club – but fit the gameplay.

OhShape also released their Stay At Home update, which brought more features. Overall, it is a great game to play.

Available on: Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest, HTC VIVE.

OhShape forces you to move your body. Photo credit: Odders Lab.
OhShape forces you to move your body. Photo credit: Odders Lab.

Synth Riders

I’ve previously discussed why the game is one of my favourites on the Oculus Quest. Upbeat and entertaining, Synth Riders lets players bob and punch to the beat of some amazing tunes, as they surf through pulsating levels. Even if it isn’t strictly a game for exercise, it is still one of the best VR fitness games of 2020.

Similar to Beat Saber, players hit certain blocks as they fly towards them – so far, so good. The difference is that some require players to trace a line that passes them, forcing people to dive and rise to the waves of trails. The movement can be great for exercise, forcing squats and stretches.

If players are looking to burn calories while listening to some great music, Synth Riders is a great alternative.

Available on: Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest, HTC VIVE, Valve Index.

Synth Riders lets you count your calories. Photo credit: Kluge Interactive.
Synth Riders lets you count your calories. Photo credit: Kluge Interactive.

Dance Central

Anyone surprised that Dance Central made it on the list? Dancing is still one of the best forms of exercise someone can take, especially when stuck at home and unable to move forwards. Just make sure no-one is in the room below yours as you stomp on the floorboards.

With 32 songs available, the game offers a range of options for the discerning dancer. From the hip hop bops of the 1970s to the trendy tunes of the 2000s, a few options are available for the fitness fanatic wanting to get their groove on.

The game also features online multiplayer – you know, in case you want to compare your moves to others.

Available on: Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest.

Dance Central is one of the best VR fitness games. Photo credit: Harmonx.
Dance Central is one of the best VR fitness games. Photo credit: Harmonx.

BOXVR

Boxing is great fun. Swiping and thrusting fists against a bag helps to release a lot of stress, which melts away over time. BOXVR is a dedicated game for those who want to thrust and block their calories away.

The game has over 20 hours of workouts to help you get on your way. The title also released their Extreme Pack, which has hardcore workouts designed for 18 songs.

The game also received an update in July 2020 which implements a ‘virtual training studio’, upgrading the game to more of a fitness hub. Time to sweat the calories away.

Available on: Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest, PSVR, Valve Index.

Box your way to better health with BOXVR. Photo credit: FitVR.
Box your way to better health with BOXVR. Photo credit: FitVR.

Guided Tai Chi

Guided Tai Chi is a unique way to lose weight. Trainers guide the user through workouts, said to lower tension and stress.

The game is designed to provide a soothing experience. With scenic backgrounds and one hundred types of sessions, players can expect to enter a serene level of relaxation in this particular game.

The game includes a world tour mode. Though how far in the world you would go is uncertain.

Available on: Oculus Quest.

Guided Tai Chi is very different compared to other VR fitness games. Photo credit: Cubicle Ninjas.
Guided Tai Chi is very different compared to other VR fitness games. Photo credit: Cubicle Ninjas.

What are the best VR fitness games of 2020?

Ultimately, it comes down to personal choice. The Oculus Quest has the most manoeuvrability, meaning anyone can pick up a headset, head to a shaded garden, and start working out. The platform also has some of the best games on the system, including OhShape and Synth Riders.

But that doesn’t mean other headsets provide lesser experiences. Both the HTC VIVE and Oculus Rift S have some fantastic titles as well, exclusively on their system. But it comes down to what other wider interests users may want to play around with, beyond exercise titles.

In any case, it’s a great time to pick up a headset and start losing weight. Pick up a fitness game, and start playing.


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Tom Ffiske

Editor, Virtual Perceptions

Tom Ffiske specialises in writing about VR, AR, and MR across the immersive reality industry. Tom is based in London.