Exercise by Accident: VR Games To Help You Work Out at Home

Oculus Blog
Posted by Hayden Dingman
November 16, 2020

For some, exercise comes naturally. You crave the exhaustion and the ensuing endorphin rush of your body saying, “Hey, nice job today,” like a supportive coach in a ’90s sports film.

The rest of us need a bit more coaxing. Luckily, VR exists. And while our first port of call for VR fitness is dedicated fitness apps like Supernatural and FitXR, you can get a surprising amount of exercise “by accident” with a bunch of the games below. If you’ve ever thought you’d be better at aerobics if there were swords involved or wished the rowing machine might plunge you into a stealthy spec ops mission, then this list is for you.

And if you’re playing on Oculus Quest or Quest 2, keep an eye out for our new system-level fitness tracker, Oculus Move. We’re rolling it out gradually to Quest owners starting this week, letting players set daily fitness goals and track the calories they’re burning across all VR apps, from Pistol Whip to Phantom: Covert Ops to Supernatural and more.

Dedicated Fitness


While plenty of people develop an ad hoc VR fitness regimen, Supernatural offers an alternative. A $19 month (or $179 a year) subscription gets you a new workout every day—new movement sequences, a new environment, new music, and a coach to cheer you on through the entire regimen. It’s like signing up for an aerobics class, but your local gym is located in a remote part of Iceland. Sweeping arm movements are interspersed with plenty of squats and lunges, for full-body workouts that will have you sweating in no time.

Exercise: Full-body, Aerobic

Developer: Within Unlimited, Inc.

Available On: Quest Platform


FitXR began life as BoxVR, but it’s grown and evolved. Dance workouts have joined boxing, turning FitXR into a virtual fitness studio led by real-life trainers. Choose the full-body workout that fits your mood and desired intensity, whether throwing punches fast and furious, following along to a high-energy hip hop class, or working on your form in a less intense session. FitXR releases new classes on a regular basis, so there’s little need to repeat—unless you fall in love with a favorite, of course. You can even match in with people around the world, if you’re missing that communal gym atmosphere.

Exercise: Full-body, Aerobic

Developer: FitXR

Available On: Quest Platform // Rift Platform


Beat Saber

Beat Saber is one of the most popular VR games—and one of the most popular for fitness, too. Armed with a pair of laser sabers, your goal is to slash through incoming blocks to the beat of the music, and avoid walls either by ducking under them or moving to the side. Simple enough, but even at low difficulty levels it’s supremely satisfying slicing and dicing through the fray. Developer Beat Games also continues to expand on Beat Saber with new music packs, and the latest BTS Music Pack is great if you’re looking to add some high-energy positivity to your daily workouts.

Exercise: Full-body, Aerobic

Developer: Beat Games

Available On: Quest Platform // Rift Platform

Pistol Whip

Starring in an action movie is hard work. In Pistol Whip, it’s one against many as you try to fight off one assassin after another. The choreography is up to you though, as you dodge, duck, and weave through oncoming bullets and fire off a few of your own in return. Extra points are awarded for syncing your shots to the soundtrack, which gives Pistol Whip the feel of a deadly ballet. Your heartbeat will be up in no time. And the upcoming Pistol Whip: 2089 expansion looks even more intense, with a pulsing synthwave-inspired soundtrack featuring acclaimed artists like Magic Sword and Processor.

Exercise: Legs, Aerobic

Developer: Cloudhead Games, Ltd.

Available On: Quest Platform // Rift Platform

Dance Central

Even the least coordinated person is bound to pick up a few moves from Dance Central. It’s that beginner-friendly and intuitive. The Harmonix series has proved a popular fitness outlet for years on consoles and mobile devices, but Dance Central’s first foray into VR adds a whole new layer. Hit the club scene and shake it with The Chainsmokers, groove along to Dua Lipa, and vibe with Kendrick Lamar. The club’s patrons will teach you the moves. All you need to do is follow along and mirror their actions. And once you’ve got your dance routine down? Head into the Lounge! Dance Central is even better with friends, letting you customize your looks and dance the night away together.

Exercise: Dance, Aerobic

Developer: Harmonix Music Systems, Inc.

Available On: Quest Platform // Rift Platform

Synth Riders

Synth Riders bills itself as a “freestyle dancing VR rhythm alternative.” That’s a lot of words, but dancing is the key. Synth Riders is driven by choreography, not complexity. While you’re free to compete for high scores, losing yourself in the music and movement is a perfectly acceptable alternative. Bash targets with your hands, ride the neon “rails,” and let it all wash over you. Multiplayer support lets you ride along with friends, and a diverse soundtrack rounds out the Synth Riders experience, with 47 free songs, two DLC packs, and custom song support on both Rift and Quest.

Exercise: Dance, Aerobic

Developer: Kluge Interactive

Available On: Quest Platform // Rift Platform


You know how cartoon characters will get scared and run straight through walls, leaving a perfect outline of their body behind? OhShape is basically that moment, over and over again. Walls come barreling towards you, and your goal is to match the person-shaped cutout and squeak through unharmed. OhShape also asks you to collect coins and either punch or avoid certain walls, but it’s the pose recreation that’s made it a hit among players. It’s an intuitive (and funny) concept, but allows for surprisingly complex dance routines. And with a soundtrack that spans everything from K-pop to rock and synthwave, there’s a little something for everyone—and custom song support as well.

Exercise: Dance, Aerobic

Developer: Odders Lab

Available On: Quest Platform // Rift Platform


Until You Fall

Synthwave is key to Until You Fall’s aesthetic as well. It’s like an album cover come to life, with wraithlike knights and fearsome crystalline beasts fighting you for control of this neon-drenched world. Pick up your sword and start swinging—until you can’t anymore. Then start again. Until You Fall is an addictive run-based game, pitting you against more and more dangerous foes until you die, and then returning you to the battle stronger than before. And given the amount of work going into your back and shoulder muscles, you may soon find you’re stronger in real life too.

Exercise: Back, Shoulders, Arms, Aerobic

Developer: Schell Games

Available On: Quest Platform // Rift Platform

Phantom: Covert Ops

Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream—and be prepared for sore shoulders in the morning. In Phantom: Covert Ops, you’re a special forces operative traversing hostile territory in a military kayak. Pick off enemies, plant bombs, and then slip away before you’re spotted, like a ghost in the night. Tense stealth-action and a flare for the cinematic make Phantom: Covert Ops an easy recommendation regardless, but it’s a surprisingly thorough workout as well, thanks to all that paddling. And hey, who doesn’t like to exercise while sitting down?

Exercise: Shoulders and Back, Endurance

Developer: nDreams

Available On: Quest Platform // Rift Platform

In Death: Unchained

Imagine The Divine Comedy, only Dante took up a bow to save Heaven and Hell. In Death: Unchained pits you against the souls of the forsaken, whether knights or mages or creatures too horrid to describe. Draw back your bow and fire, again and again. The further you go, the tougher the challenge—until you die and start back at the beginning. In Death: Unchained rewards a good eye and a fast arm, as you sink arrows into opponents like pincushions. And while your journey starts out easy enough, before long you’re ducking behind cover, firing dozens of arrows every minute, and blinking away sweat. Chances are you won’t even notice the soreness in your triceps, you’ll be so focused.

Exercise: Arms and Shoulders, Endurance / Aerobic

Developer: Superbright

Available On: Quest Platform // Rift Platform

Space Pirate Trainer

Few games can get your heart pumping like Space Pirate Trainer. An arcade-shooter that’s meant to be played and replayed, Space Pirate Trainer revels in stacking the odds against you. Within minutes you’re squatting and kneeling and pulling maneuvers straight out of The Matrix, trying to elegantly (or not-so-elegantly) fit your body through near-impenetrable walls of incoming laser fire. Your goal is to survive as long as possible against the endless robot tide, taking out as many enemies as you can before going down in a blaze of glory. An early hit with people using VR for fitness, Space Pirate Trainer is every bit as exhausting and exhilarating now as it was upon release.

Exercise: Full-body, Aerobic

Developer: I-Illusions

Available On: Quest Platform // Rift Platform


There are five guns pointed at you. You have a glass bottle in each hand. What do you do? In SUPERHOT VR, time only moves when you do, which gives you plenty of time to decide. Bullets, thrown bottles, punches, they all hang in the air waiting for you to break the stillness. Hopefully you can hold a pose, because SUPERHOT VR is a great go-at-your-own-pace workout, with an economy of movement that’s almost reminiscent of yoga or Tai Chi at times. Squat under an incoming bullet, and then take a minute to think about your next move while your thighs start to burn.

Exercise: Full-body, Endurance

Developer: SUPERHOT Team

Available On: Quest Platform // Rift Platform


The Thrill of the Fight

Cue the Survivor song and get ready for a training montage. The Thrill of the Fight brings the boxing gym to your home, pitting you against ever-tougher opponents on your journey to the top. Keep your gloves high to block incoming blows, then retaliate with a flurry of punches. Don’t let them catch you flat-footed. And make sure you use proper form! The Thrill of the Fight is a lovingly crafted boxing simulation that’s every bit as exhausting as going ten rounds in a proper ring, but without the next-day bruises. There are also a variety of speed bags and punching bags, if you just want to take a few days to train in peace.

Exercise: Arms, Shoulders, Back, Endurance / Aerobic

Developer: Sealost Interactive LLC

Available On: Quest Platform // Rift Platform

The Climb

Picture it: You’re hanging from your fingertips, high in the Alps. You’re tired. You’re sweaty. You pause, take the headset off, and drink some water. Scaling cliff faces unaided is probably off the table for most of us, but The Climb can make anyone feel like an expert rock climber. And while it probably won’t prepare you to free solo El Capitan in real life, The Climb offers a surprisingly tough low-impact workout. It takes a lot of endurance to keep your arms moving through even a virtual rock climb, especially if you’re hoping to post impressive times to the leaderboards. Don’t worry about the competition the first time out though. The view from the top is its own (spectacular) reward.

Exercise: Shoulders and Arms, Endurance

Developer: Crytek

Available On: Quest Platform // Rift Platform

Racket: Nx

How much can you do with just a racket and a ball? If Racket: Nx is any indication, the answer is “Quite a lot.” Racket: Nx takes place inside a giant dome. Your goal is to whack the ball into glowing targets as they appear. Hit the ball hard enough and it will roll across the inside of the dome and blow through additional targets. It’s simple but thrilling, a futuristic take on racquetball that will have you vying for high scores in the campaign or losing track of time in the “Endless” mode. And while the soundtrack is great, you’re welcome to pump in your own tunes if you have a custom workout playlist.

Exercise: Arm and Shoulder (Dominant Hand)

Developer: One Hamsa

Available On: Quest Platform // Rift Platform

Got a favorite VR exercise routine of your own? Leave a comment below and let us know!