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At first I was skeptical, then I started reaping the benefits of virtual reality workouts

VR exercising can be fun and effective. Here are some pros and cons to know about. This article is reprinted by permission from

Apart from watching instructional YouTube videos, playing New York Times word games on our phones and streaming a show over spotty Wi-Fi in the evening, my wife and I are not big techies. That’s why I was surprised when she hinted that she’d like a virtual reality (VR) headset for Christmas.

“I’ve heard it’s really good exercise,” she said. “Mmmm hmmm,” I replied skeptically, but the message had been received, and I surprised her with one under the tree.

Before that, I thought that videogames — especially the VR sort — were something an adult leaves behind in their 20s, or, surely, their 30s. The moment I strapped on that headset, though, it was clear to me that this thing was made for everyone.

A whole other world The makers of VR headsets have smartly included free games and apps that help new users familiarize themselves with handset controls, body movements, and the immersive experience as a whole. One of these games was my first introduction to VR, and I was blown away.

If you’re new to VR technology, then getting to know your device inside an incredibly detailed make-believe world you could never have imagined is a first step I highly recommend.

Depending on which brand and model of headset you buy, you may find yourself walking among dinosaurs, meditating in a psychedelic 3-D field of color and sound, or shooting space puffins that have landed in your living room through a hole in your ceiling. Rather than making you feel as though any of this actually taking place in the real world, today’s VR headsets do a very convincing job of bringing you into their world.

A sweaty, heart-pumping, bebopping world As my wife correctly guessed, the prospect of exercising in VR was what really piqued my interest. Once I’d gotten familiar with the headset and hand controls, I created the 6.5’ x 6.5’ virtual “safe space” required by most games in one of our rooms and then I was ready to work out.

Depending on the brand and model of device, there are dozens to hundreds of active VR games, apps and experiences that can be downloaded or streamed via Wi-Fi. On the recommendation of family members, we started with a low-cost boxing game.

The first time I played it, I found myself breathless and sweaty inside of 10 minutes. I took a break, but an hour later, was back in the ring, swinging wildly and gasping for air.