Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)are a form of immersive experience that are revolutionizing several aspects ofour lives, from entertainment and gaming to how we learn and work, and even howwe exercise.
The trend of exercising at home has increasedin recent years due to the convenience and accessibility of home workouts andthe proliferation of fitness apps, online workout programs, and home exerciseequipment. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has likely fueled the trend of at-home fitness, with most people intentioned tocontinue their home workouts, even with the full reopening ofshops and gyms.
While traditional ways of working out are stillvery popular, VR and AR are becoming an alternative: the global online/virtual fitness market size was valued at 6,046 million $in 2019 and is projected to reach 59,231 million $ in 2027.
AR and VR are technologies that allow forenhancing users’ experience.
AR overlays digital images on the physicalenvironment viewed through a device, such as a smartphone or smart glasses. Forfitness purposes, these could include the display, for example, of virtualworkout instructors or trainers, who provide the users with real-time feedbackand guidance on form and technique or even allow the user to compete againstvirtual opponents.
VR fitness, instead, involves the use of a VRheadset and special equipment to simulate physical activities in a virtualenvironment. This can include activities like dancing, boxing, or even hiking, allowingusers to experience a wide range of physical activities without actually havingto leave their homes.
AR and VR have thereby the potential to addvalue to the fitness industry in several ways.
What are these potential benefits?
Available data suggest that more than 80% of adolescents and27% of adults are physically inactive and are not meeting the minimumrecommendations for physical activity of at least 150-300 minutes per week ofmoderate-intensity or 75-150 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity.
One of the most frequent barriers to physicalactivity is the lack of enjoyment and the preference to do other things.
AR and VR technologies can make exercise moreengaging and enjoyable, which can help to motivate people to stick to theirworkout routines. Through gamification of the workout routine, people can workout without feeling they have been working out.
And the workout is real! Studies have shown that VR elicitsmoderate to vigorous physical activity without a significant increase in motionsickness. Furthermore, VR can induce a better game experience and stimulate cognitiveabilities and mental processes.
Lack of time was also reported as a barrier to physicalactivity by the majority of inactive people, and this was the most frequentlyselected response. Indeed, between work, commuting, and caring activities itcan be hard to find time (and motivation) to go to the gym.
With VR and AR, people can conveniently workout from home but participate in the same activity and compete against eachother.
VR workouts can offer a greater variety ofactivities and environments than traditional gym workouts, making it easier toswitch things up and prevent boredom. It is also possible to combine VR/AR withreal-world equipment, such as treadmills, stationary bikes, or free weights, toprovide a more authentic and immersive experience.
VR workouts can be tailored to an individual'sfitness goals and preferences whether that is improving endurance, strength, orflexibility, making them more effective and enjoyable.
Most VR workouts allow users to adjust theintensity and difficulty level to suit their current fitness level and ability.This can help to ensure that you are challenging yourself without overdoing it,and can help you to progress and improve over time.
VR/AR fitness applications or games providestep-by-step instructions and visual guidance on how to perform the exercisescorrectly. The use of a 3D anatomy app could improve the learning of the exercisesby providing a more visual and interactive explanation of the correct movementsand muscles involved in the exercises.
Overall, VR has the potential to make physicalactivity more accessible, enjoyable, and effective, which could help to promotehealthy lifestyles and improve physical fitness. The variability andflexibility of these new technologies would allow everyone to personalize theworkouts according to preferences and fitness goals. Additionally, VR and ARtechnology could provide real-time feedback and tracking of an individual'sperformance, making it easier to monitor progress and adjust the workoutaccordingly.
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