This Is What 50 Days Of Virtual Reality Exercise Can Do

by Joe Durbin • September 26th, 2016

Virtual Reality,while seen by many as just another offshoot of video games, is actually quite a bit more active than traditional electronic entertainment. VR might have you jumping, dodging, standing and swinging your arms. This new medium has the chance to involve gamers and newcomers alike in gaming activities that offer much more in the cardiovascular department. It may even be able to help us lose a bit of weight and one man recently concluded an experiment designed to prove just that.


Tim Donahey is a certified personal trainer and former competitive power lifter. Following the birth of his son, Donahey found himself looking for a way to stay in shape while also taking advantage of his new favorite toy: an HTC Vive VR headset.

50 days ago he posted on Reddit under the name leppermessiah1 and issued the following challenge to himself:

Joe Rogan says in the future that gamers are going to be in amazing shape. This got me thinking. So I strapped on my heart rate monitor and stepped into VR.

10 Minutes in The Lab’s Longbow (Warmup)

20 in Thrill of the Fight

20 in Holopoint (Drop squats to dodge. So many squats. lol)

10 in Holoball (cooldown)

After the hour was up I checked my monitor and couldn’t believe it. I had burned 866 calories in 1:04:45. That’s crazy.

So I’m going to make this a routine to drop some pounds and improve my aerobic fitness over the next 50 days. I weighed in today at 180.4 lbs. I’m pretty excited to see what I can do using just VR and improving my nutrition. I think the results will be compelling, to say the least.

True to his word, Donahey stuck with the program for all 50 days. Today, he posted to Reddit once again to show off his final results.


Donahey lost 15 pounds in those 50 days using this VR only exercise plan. He wrote upon in conclusion:

50 days ago I decided to challenge myself to lose weight and increase fitness using nothing more than VR conducted at a high intensity pace, some walking, and good nutrition. That journey has concluded.

Final Week Workout:

10 min: Audioshield (Custom Difficulty Mod)

20 min: Sword Master VR (Novice Levels 6-10)

20 min: Bitslap (Normal Difficulty)

10 min: Fruit Ninja VR (Arcade Mode)

The Results:

Starting Weight: 180.4

Current Weight: 166.0 lbs

Waist: Down 3.75 inches

Total Weight Loss: 14.4 lbs (Down 2.2 lbs for the week)

% of Goal Weight Completed (of 14.3lbs): 100.7%

Additional Weekly Data:

Total weekly sessions of high-intensity VR training: 5

Total hours of high-intensity VR training (including warmups and cooldown): ~5:25

Average calories burned per session: 796 kcal. (Up 79 kcal from last week thanks to the new games!)

Weighted Vest: 17.5 lbs. (same weight as last week)

Donahey also posted links to each of his weekly recaps as he worked toward this goal. He makes it clear, however, that “I want to underscore that this was never meant to be a weight loss challenge per se, it was always intended to be a fitness challenge first and foremost.”

On that score, Donahey seems to have succeed. His efforts have inspired a VR workout group that now contains over 40 members.

In conclusion, Donahey wrote that:

My journey doesn’t end here. VR has enabled me to reclaim much of the fitness I had lost when life threw a curve ball at my family 10 months ago and I was forced to turn my attention to more immediate concerns. In the time since, stepping back into the gym arena as a novice held little appeal to me, and so I did nothing. Almost eight straight months of sedentary living and incremental weight gain led to the man you see in that ‘Before’ picture. 50 straight days of high intensity virtual reality gaming led to the man you see now. F#%&. Yes.

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