Fitness Video Games for a Healthier Lifestyle

min read
A person wearing a VR headset in their living room. They have their hands next to their face while holding VR controllers. A digital overlay shows parts of a VR game.
BetMGM Aug 30, 2023, 3:59 PM

A few years ago, fitness gaming exploded onto the scene. It introduced a new way for people to play by getting them off their couches and chairs and onto their feet. Just like exciting variety games, there’s a vast range of exercise video games for you. 

Learn more about this unique genre of video games, their benefits, and some of the best titles you can add to your daily video game workout routine.

What Are Fitness Video Games?

Fitness video games are a genre that encourages you to exercise. Unlike traditional games, fitness video games ditch classic game controllers and provide new peripherals that allow you to move about. You may have even played fitness video games like Wii Sports, which turned the controller into many virtual sports tools like baseball bats, tennis rackets, and bowling balls. Some games take this further with motion tracking cameras, virtual reality headsets, fitness balance boards, fitness rings, and even stationary bicycles. 

These are games to motivate people who may struggle to get regular exercise by combining it with another fun hobby that they enjoy.

The Benefits of Fitness Video Games

Fitness video games offer many benefits to players. Here are some of the positive results you can expect from playing these games backed up by scientific studies.

1. A Great Way To Encourage Exercise

In the article “Active Video Games Provide Alternative Workout,” the University of Georgia shared how people felt more satisfied and gained a sense of autonomy when playing fitness games. 

“When an individual feels autonomous, they’re more likely to exercise or exergame on their own,” said Sami Yli-Piipari, co-author of the study and an associate professor at the Mary Frances Early College of Education. “They feel ownership over what they are doing and they’re doing it for themselves, so it’s more likely they will keep up the activity.”

Yongju Hwang, corresponding author of the study and doctoral student in kinesiology, also shared how these games could encourage people to exercise without having to deal with issues that they might feel with going to the gym, like boredom or feeling pressured to go.

The study compared two groups: one that exercised traditionally and another that engaged in fitness video games. The traditional fitness group did perform better, but the fitness video game group had more fun.

2. Provides Similar Health Benefits to Jogging

The University of Bath reported on a study of active video games in the article “Video Games Can Have Similar Health Benefits to Jogging.” In this piece, researchers from the UK and Brazil studied the effects of active video games on type 1 diabetics. They found that active video games offered many of the benefits of treadmill exercise by reducing the diabetic’s blood sugar levels to a safe value after engaging in the fitness video games.

3. Can Help Young People Lose Weight and Boost Cardiorespiratory Fitness

The study “Effects of Active Video Games on Health-Related Physical Fitness and Motor Competence in Children and Adolescents With Overweight or Obesity: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” found that active video games had positive effects on body mass index, body fat percentage, and cardiorespiratory fitness in overweight children. 

While a study has not confirmed that these findings apply to older people, physical activity will likely have some positive effects like other forms of exercise.

4. Can Improve Brain Health

The article “Exergaming: Playing Video Games While You Exercise” on Psychology Today’s website shared the findings of its study involving elderly people. The volunteers used virtual-reality-enhanced stationary bikes for 20 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and had their cognitive abilities tested afterward. The study found that participants had improved cognitive performance after several months of regular exercise on the VR bicycles.

Top Five Active Video Games

Now that it’s clear that fitness video games offer health benefits, you might want to know which games are the best. If you are looking for a workout game to play on your home video game console or VR headset, here are some great titles you should keep an eye out for.

1. Arms (Nintendo Switch) 77% on Metacritic

Arms on the Nintendo Switch is a fighting game that takes advantage of the detachable Joy-Con controllers to have players throwing different types of punches while dodging attacks from an opponent in fully 3D arenas. This game also features special moves and unique battle zones to keep things fresh.

2. Beat Saber (VR) 93% on Metacritic

Beat Saber is a popular VR rhythm game with players striking red or blue blocks in specific directions with virtual lightsabers. They must also dodge objects approaching them in time to the music. The game features songs and downloadable song packs from many popular artists, including Imagine Dragons, Panic! At the Disco, Green Day, Timbaland, Skrillex, Linkin Park, and BTS. 

This may sound simple, but when you add a points system that rewards you for how well you strike a block, scoreboards, limited lives for when you miss a block or get hit by an object, and increasingly more challenging levels that require you to move fast and react quickly, this game can have you building up a sweat. 

3. BoxVR (VR) 81% on Metacritic

BoxVR takes the basic formula developed by Beat Saber, but instead of striking objects with virtual blades, you punch them with virtual hands. You must perform different types of punches while dodging objects in time to the music. This is another excellent title for getting the heart pumping.

4. Just Dance 2023 (Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X) 70% on Metacritic

Just Dance is a dancing game where players get to dance along to one of 40 songs, racking up points and getting physical as they do. Unlike many other games, this title doesn’t require any special peripherals but requires installing an app on your phone. While playing, you hold your phone in your right hand, and the phone’s built-in sensors will pick up your movements. This makes it one of the easiest games on this list to get into.

5. Zumba Fitness: World Party (Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, and Xbox One) 73% on Metacritic

Do you love Zumba? Then Zumba Fitness: World Party is for you. This game has dozens of classes that you can customize to learn different dance moves from various dance styles. It also boasts music you can bust a move to, including songs from Lady Gaga, Marc Anthony, and Priyanka Chopra. You can even dance in a variety of different virtual environments set all around the world, including Brazil, Hawaii, and India. Players will need the right Wii or Xbox hardware, but these devices allow you to recreate epic dance moves.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.