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The Meta Quest 3 has completely changed my workout routine

OPINION: Even before the pandemic, there was always a conversation around burning off calories through VR, as the medium encourages you to be far more active during gameplay in a way that consoles rarely do. Fast forward to today, however, and that conversation has ramped up considerably.

Hop on the Meta Quest store and you’ll see an entire section dedicated to games that have a fitness-first approach, with standout titles like Les Mills Bodycombat and CleanSheet Football.

Still, even with plenty of testimonies online from those who swear by VR fitness routines, I remained sceptical. I’ve been going to the gym for over 10 years now and I just couldn’t see how VR could ever hope to replace it, but when I was offered the chance to put it to the test, I decided that now was as good a time as any to see if there was any truth to it. After a month and a half of utilising the Meta Quest 3 as a workout tool, I’m genuinely impressed.

For starters, time spent in virtual reality got my heartrate up to a level that I didn’t expect. Diving in for a 20-minute round of Les Mills Bodycombat, I was able to get my heartrate above 173BPM, with an average rate of 154BPM throughout the session. That blew my mind for a workout taking place entirely in my living room.

Meta Quest 3 and controllers on a table

It’s a similar story for games that aren’t explicitly designed around fitness. Another 20-minute bout in Samba de Amigo: Party Central, Sega’s rhythm game that sees you flinging virtual maracas to a selection of hit songs, managed to raise my heartrate to an average of 125BPM, helping me to burn far more calories than my PS5 or Xbox Series S could ever hope to.

However, you might have noticed a recurring theme here – the length of these workouts. Regardless of how engaging these apps are, the strenuous activity of exercising with a piece of tech strapped to your head meant that I could never really go beyond half an hour at a time, and this is VR’s biggest crux.

When you really start to sweat, the presence of the Meta Quest 3 on your face is difficult to ignore, and because of this, VR should never be used as your sole form of exercise. After all, it is recommended that you should try and get in an hour’s exercise each day, something that just can’t be done comfortably with a headset.

Plus, there’s no getting around the fact that VR can’t offer the same consistent cardiovascular strain that running or cycling can, and you can forget about building muscle definition unless you bring resistance bands into the mix, but that’s a catastrophe just waiting to happen.

Those might sound like pretty big caveats, but in recognising the limits of VR, I’ve found where best to bring it into the fold. On the days where I’m strapped for time and can’t get down the gym or it’s technically a rest day and I’m in the mood for a bit of low-impact active recovery, the Quest 3 offers up the perfect solution.

In this context, using VR as an addendum to your gym routine is just the ticket for helping you to cover all of your bases, and as someone who’s a bit obsessed with maximising the amount of exercise I can realistically squeeze into a week, the Meta Quest 3 has helped me to do just that.

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