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Get Your Body Moving! Which Game Console Is Best For Exercise?

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Video games get a bad rap for causing people to become couch potatoes, and I completely disagree with this notion.

With the current generation of consoles and VR technology, there are quite a few exercise, fitness, and sports games. From dancing to boxing, these games require active participation, encouraging you to get up and move around.

Here are my picks for the top consoles for exercise:

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch

Ever since the Power Pad for the original NES, Nintendo has tried to find ways to keep people active. Recent examples include Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus for the Nintendo Wii and Wii U.

The Nintendo Switch (get it on Amazon) is the latest console from the company behind Super Mario Bros. While it doesn’t have its own fitness board, it uses the sensors in the handheld controllers. Here’s a closer look at some of the technical specs of the Joy-Con controllers:

  • Gyroscopes
  • Accelerometer
  • Motion IR camera

While these controllers can’t track your movement within the room, they can track your arm movements. This is used in a variety of games that require physical activity, including:

  • Just Dance 2019
  • Sports Party
  • Fitness Boxing
  • American Ninja Warrior
  • Superbeat Xonic Ex
  • Arms

Most of these games require you to hold the controllers while performing various actions. They are fun for the entire family and require you to get up off the couch.

Microsoft Xbox One and Xbox Kinect

Unlike the Switch, the Xbox doesn’t have controllers that track your movement. It relies on the Kinect instead, which was first released for the Xbox 360.

If you already have a 360, it’s hard to justify upgrading to the Xbox One (Amazon) just for fitness games, but the upgraded Kinect for the Xbox One on Amazon offers superior tracking and these features:

  • 1080p camera
  • Minimum distance of three feet
  • Detects facial expressions and heart rate
  • Tracks up to 25 individual joints, including thumbs

The Kinect is not as advanced at tracking compared to the sensors used for VR headsets, but it’s better than the previous Kinect. There is also a great selection of exercise, sports, and fitness games:

  • Kinect Sports
  • Dance Central Spotlight
  • Kinect Sports Rivals
  • Shape Up
  • Zumba Fitness

These are a few of the most popular games for the Kinect, but there are still dozens of others to keep you busy.

Please note: If you have Xbox One S and Xbox One Kinect, you will need a Kinect adapter for Xbox One S from Amazon to make it work with the newer console.

Sony PlayStation 4

The PlayStation 4 (Amazon) is one of the most versatile options, as you have several different accessories to help with your workouts. Starting with the PlayStation 3, Sony released the Move motion controllers and Eye camera.

The Move works like the handheld controllers for the Switch while the Eye tracks movement like the Kinect, providing the best of both worlds. While these are cool accessories, Sony is focusing on the next big thing – virtual reality. Here is a quick look at the Sony PlayStation VR headset:

  • 960 x 1080-pixel resolution per eye
  • 120 Hz refresh rate
  • 100-degree field of view

With the Sony PlayStation VR headset, the Move motion controllers and Eye camera are still used. This works great when playing action titles such as Skyrim and Resident Evil 7. You also get access to some of the best VR games for exercise:

  • Astro Bot: Rescue Mission
  • Beat Saber
  • Superhot VR
  • Audioshield
  • Hot Squat
  • The Fastest Fist

Besides these options, you’ll find at least half a dozen different VR boxing games.

Oculus Rift VR System

With the positional and rotational tracking features, Oculus Rift can monitor every movement, allowing developers to create games that require more physical activity. The features are comparable to the Sony PlayStation VR, with a few differences:

  • 6DOF (six degrees of freedom) tracking
  • 1080 x 1200-pixel resolution per eye
  • 90 Hz refresh rate
  • 110-degree field of view
  • Supports Windows 10

Oculus Rift is at the top of the VR market, but it does require a PC. Looking at the minimum specs, most computers with a decent graphics card should support the system.

If you want to avoid stuttering graphics and technical glitches, try to at least meet the recommended PC specs:

  • Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 1060 / AMD Radeon RX 480 or better
  • Processor: Intel i5-4590 / AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or better
  • Memory: 8GB RAM or more
  • Video output: compatible HDMI 1.3
  • USB ports: 3x USB 3.0 ports and 1x USB 2.0 port
  • Operating system: Windows 10

The main benefit of this system is the six degrees of freedom (6DOF). It includes a 3-axis rotational tracking sensor and a 3-axis positional tracking sensor, for complete freedom of movement.

What games can you play? There are a surprising number of exercise and sports games that are compatible with the Oculus Rift, including:

  • Box VR
  • Knockout League
  • Beat Saber
  • Sprint Vector
  • Sparc
  • Superhot VR
  • Sword Master VR

Make sure you check out my article about the best VR games for exercise! They will make you sweat!

Keep in mind that many of these games are rated for teens or adults. While Sword Master VR and Superhot VR aren’t super graphic, they do involve swordplay and first-person shooting.

HTC Vive VR System

The HTC Vive is a close competitor to the Oculus Rift. They are two of the leading VR consoles. Many of the best VR games for exercise are available on both systems.

Box VR, Knockout League, Beat Saber, Sprint Vector, and Sparc can be purchased for the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. In fact, some of these games are also available for PlayStation VR. Here are the main technical details:

  • 6DOF (six degrees of freedom) tracking
  • 1080 x 1200-pixel resolution per eye
  • 90 Hz refresh rate
  • 110-degree field of view
  • Supports Windows, SteamOS, and Linux

The Vive and the Rift share many features. They are both VR headsets that require a PC. While there are stand-alone systems, such as the Oculus Go, they do not offer the tracking needed for an exercise game.

Recommended minimum PC specs:

  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 / AMD Radeon RX 480 or better
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-4590 / AMD FX 8350 or better
  • Memory: 4GB RAM or more
  • Video Output: HDMI 1.4, Display Port 1.2 or newer
  • USB ports: 1x USB 2.0 or better
  • Operating system: Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1 and later

Why choose the Vive? It’s best suited for those who want the most accurate tracking. The technology used in the Vive allows for improved motion-tracking. The only drawback is the cost, as it’s one of the more expensive options.

Conclusion – Which Game Console Is Best For Exercise?

If I had the money, I’d get the Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 and HTC Vive(I already own Xbox One). In the end, each console brings its own advantages and disadvantages. The latest VR systems are cool, but they currently have smaller libraries of games.

The Xbox One, PS4, and Switch are all standard home consoles that double as home media centers. The Switch is the most family-friendly option, but it lacks the spatial tracking provided by the Kinect or the PlayStation Eye camera. While the Kinect tracks movement, it’s not VR.

For those who want the best VR games for exercise and AAA titles, the Playstation 4 with the VR headset is currently the top choice.

What console would be your choice? Let me know in the comments!


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