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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:

In a rush? Here’s my top pick!

HTC Vive Cosmos Elite

The HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is one of the best headsets for gaming on the market. It allows the most accurate tracking.

NewEgg | Amazon

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.

Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch (NewEgg / 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.

Check out Nintendo Switch on NewEgg or Amazon.

Microsoft Xbox

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.

Microsoft later released a second version of the Kinect for Xbox One. If you can get your hands on one, you should know that it 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.

If you already have a Kinect, there is a great selection of exercise, sports, and fitness games:

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: Unfortunately, Microsoft has stopped manufacturing Kinect, so from now on it will be tougher to get it brand new. If you have Xbox One S or X, you will need a Kinect adapter.

Xbox Series X/S

With the release of Xbox Series X & Xbox Series S, many were thinking whether the console would support any VR or motion controls like Kinect.

Unfortunately Xbox spokesperson clarified that “VR for console is not a focus for us at this time.” (source) Also, the new consoles are not compatible with Kinect.

Sony PlayStation

PlayStation 4

The PlayStation 4 (NewEgg /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 (you can check one of the best VR games for exercise in my article here):

  • 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.

PlayStation 5

PlayStation have posted on their blog that they will be introducing a new VR system for PS5. They didn’t mention a specific date as I don’t think it’s their priority.

While VR games are compatible with PS5, you will need to purchase the PS VR headset, DualShock 4 wireless controller or PlayStation Move controller(s), and PS Camera (for PS4) which are all sold separately from the Playstation 5.

It’s up to you whether you’d like to wait for the PS5 VR headset or purchase more products separately to make the PS VR headset compatible with PS5.

Oculus Rift VR System

Note: In August 2020, Oculus annouced that starting October 2020, every new user of Oculus will be required to login through a Facebook account. Oculus accounts will be supported until January 2023, though functionality might be limited.

If you don’t feel comfortable providing Facebook your personal details, you can create a burner account or choose a different VR system.

With the positional and rotational tracking features, Oculus Quest (NewEgg / Amazon) 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
  • 1832 x 1920-pixel resolution per eye
  • 90 Hz refresh rate
  • 110-degree field of view
  • SnapDragon XR 2 processor with 6GB RAM
  • supports HDR10+ content
  • built-in speakers with 3D audio

Oculus Quest 2 is at the top of the VR market and it’s biggest advantage is that it doesn’t require a PC or console. You can still connect it to a PC of course to enjoy all Oculus-compatible games.

If you plan on connecting your Quest 2 to the PC, bear in mind that it should meet these minimum requirements:

  • Windows 10
  • 8GB RAM and more
  • Intel i5-4590 / AMD Ryzen 5 1500X or greater
  • 1x USB port
  • some graphics cards may not be supported
  • the cable for PC connection is sold separately

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 Quest 2, 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 Cosmos VR System

The HTC Vive Cosmos (NewEgg / Amazon) is a close competitor to the Oculus Quest 2. 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 Quest or HTC Vive Cosmos. In fact, some of these games are also available for PlayStation VR. Here are the main technical details:

  • 6DOF (six degrees of freedom) tracking
  • 1440 x 1700 pixels per eye
  • 90 Hz refresh rate
  • 6 camera sensors
  • supports wide field of view (max 110 degrees)
  • in-built over the ear stereo headphones
  • supports Windows, SteamOS, and Linux

HTC Vive Cosmos Elite comes with 2 VIVE base stations, which will cover approximately 15m2.

Recommended minimum PC specs:

  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 / AMD Radeon R9 290 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 3.0 or newer
  • Operating system: Windows 10

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.

Check out HTC Vive Cosmos on NewEgg or Amazon.

If you want to go even further and get rid of cables, HTC offers a wireless adapter.

Conclusion – Which Game Console Is Best For Exercise?

If I had the money, I’d get the Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 and HTC Vive Cosmos (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!