Can Virtual Reality Make You Healthier?

Not looking forward to working out? What if your workouts took place in a new reality? What if playing a game was all it took to burn some calories?

With Virtual Reality (VR), you get to immerse yourself in a whole new world. While it’s mostly used in games, VR is increasingly used for health and fitness due to its multiple health benefits. 

But first…

What is Virtual Reality?

Can Virtual Reality Make You Healthier

Essentially, VR is a computer-simulated environment that is animated in 3D. Users get a 360° view of the virtual world and they can also interact with it. Due to its increasing popularity, AR and VR companies in Singapore stay competitive by rendering these hyper-realistic 3D environments with sophisticated VR software. 

For maximum realism, the visual effects (VFX) in VR needs to be high quality and realistic. Usually, they’re animated by specialised VFX studios such as this Singapore VFX Company

To know more about Virtual Reality and animation, check out this motion graphics studio in Singapore

Ultimately VR changes your perception of reality. Due to the high level of virtual interaction and stimuli, the brain is tricked into thinking that it’s in a new environment. Of course, since the technology is relatively new, it’s still prone to bugs and glitches that can take away from its immersion. However, that doesn’t deny the immense potential and power of VR. 

So what does Virtual Reality have to do with health? Well, here are 5 health benefits VR offers!

1. Promotes Movement And Exercise

Can Virtual Reality Make You Healthier

In most VR games, controls are manual. That means instead of simply controlling the game with a button, you’d have to move to play. To dodge obstacles, you’ll have to jump up. To take cover from enemies, you’ll have to bend down and crouch. And to wield your weapons, you’ll have to swing your arms with the same rigour and intensity as you would in a cardio session. As you can tell, VR games involve a lot of movement. 

A study conducted in 2018 showed that the movement involved in VR games ranged from moderate to vigorous intensity exercise. The participants played 3 VR games: Audioshield, Thrill of the Fight and Holopoint, spending 10 minutes on each game. Their heart rates and oxygen levels were then recorded to measure the amount of calories burned. In fact, for one of the games (Thrill of the Fight), players burned an average of 9 to 15 calories per minute, which is equivalent to what you’ll burn in a high intensity workout. 

With that level of intensity, it’s no wonder that VR fitness is gaining more traction. 

2. Pain Relief 

With high intensity exercise, you might feel some soreness and aches, especially if you haven’t exercised in a while. You’ll be glad to know that VR also helps with pain relief, at least to some extent. 

In a 2019 study, participants were split into two groups: the first group exercised in a gym while the second group exercised with a VR headset. Participants with the VR headset experienced a 10% lower pain intensity. They also had slightly higher stamina, with their exercises lasting 2 minutes longer. 

In more severe cases of chronic pain, VR also showed potential for slight relief. During a randomised trial, 46% of people who used a VR device for chronic back pain reported their pain levels to drop by half after 8 weeks of treatment.  

While there hasn’t been much evidence to prove that VR treatments reduce pain, VR shows great potential. With better technology, it might just be a viable treatment in the future!

3. Improves Mental Wellness

Can Virtual Reality Make You Healthier

It’s so easy to be caught up in our hectic lifestyles, which is why it’s especially important to take a break and look after our mental health. One way to do so is through mindfulness and meditation.

Mindfulness is the practice of staying fully present and focused. It trains you to control your thoughts, which helps you stay calm and collected, even in the most stressful situations. However, it’s not as easy as you’d think since our minds are consumed with a million thoughts and it’s constantly pulled in different directions. 

With VR, it’s easier to create a tailored environment that’s conducive for meditation. Not everyone has access to a peaceful meadow or a lazy river and sometimes a YouTube video doesn’t do the trick. Due to how immersive VR is, it takes away the distractions of reality, helping users to stay focused in the moment. 

A trial with a VR mindfulness app was conducted in 2020 with 37 participants. It was found that a tailored virtual environment helped participants to stay more focused since they could choose a conducive environment of their choice. 

Although there are plenty of mindfulness apps, VR brings meditation to a whole new level and it could be a worthy investment for your mental wellbeing. 

4. Improves Sleep Quality 

If VR can train mindfulness, it’s no surprise that it can improve sleep quality as well. Just imagine how well you’d be sleeping if nothing’s on your mind! 

Of course, this doesn’t include playing high-intensity VR games. Instead, using VR to transport yourself to a relaxing environment can help you to destress and in turn, sleep better. Paired with mindful practices, it can improve sleep quality by encouraging deep sleep. 

It was also found that VR aided teens with insomnia as they were able to get more sleep. Even in teens without sleeping problems, VR also improved their sleep quality. Another study also concluded that VR meditation had a positive effect on the sleep quality of patients in the intensive care unit. Patients were reported to have a longer deep sleep session and greater sleep efficiency. 

So if ever find yourself feeling tired, perhaps give VR meditation a try! 

5. Improves Hand-Eye Body Coordination

If you’re someone with poor hand-eye coordination, VR might just be the solution for you. Good hand-eye coordination (HEC) means you have faster reflexes and greater accuracy. If you find yourself always catching a ball that’s thrown at you, you most likely have great HEC. 

Improving HEC is simply a matter of training and practice. Usually, this means repetitive movements. However, with VR, training is fun and entertaining! As you’re immersed in a VR game, you’re enjoying yourself while giving your muscles the practice it needs. Besides, time always seems to fly by when you’re having fun. Why torture yourself with a monotonous training session when you can throw yourself into a game? 

Final Thoughts 

Whether it’s for entertainment or rest and relaxation, Virtual Reality can do it all. With the multiple health benefits that VR offers, it’s definitely a gadget worth considering!

About the Author

Suryani Lee is a writer for Big 3 Media. She loves writing content that people will enjoy but she also loves using content creation as an excuse for spending too much time on social media.

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