How to Use Augmented Reality to Improve Your Fitness

Sticking to a fitness routine can be challenging, especially if you’re a beginner. You can use fitness apps and smartwatches to track your progress and stay accountable. However, augmented reality (AR) offers an exciting way to stay in shape.


What Is Augmented Reality?

AR is a type of technology that overlays digital media onto real-world surroundings. It layers images, videos, audio, graphics, or text on top of the physical world that you see through the app or device.

AR is a popular feature found on most smartphones. For example, if you have a Pixel device, you can add 3D characters to your photos or videos using the Playmoji option. Similarly, several mapping, informational, and gaming apps can overlay digital graphics on images captured by your phone’s camera in real time.

One of the most popular examples of augmented reality is Pokemon Go, in which digital Pokemon characters appear through your smartphone’s camera as if they’re in the real world. Unlike virtual reality, AR is not entirely dependent on a computer-generated environment. It enhances the way you perceive the environment around you. That results in some clever uses for health and fitness applications.

How to Use AR for Fitness

Several AR-based apps and devices can help gamify your workout sessions. They use engaging interfaces to make fitness more enjoyable and integrate AR into your daily workout sessions.

AR Fitness Apps

Fitness apps are a great way to track your progress, self-learn, and improve your skills. The benefits of augmented reality add an element of entertainment to fitness that can make it easier to follow through and achieve your fitness goals.

Pokemon Go: Pokemon Go is one of the best AR games that simultaneously help increase mobility. Your goal is to collect Pokemon characters as they appear around you. When a character is nearby, you can see it on the map. Point your camera towards that location and a 3D Pokemon character will be displayed on top of the on-screen image.

The game motivates you to walk and locate these virtual collectibles. If you’re a fan of the Pokemon franchise, this can be a fun way to increase the number of steps you walk every day. In addition, you can use Fitbit to count the number of steps and calories burnt while playing the game.

Download: Pokemon Go for Android | iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

Plaicise: Plaicise transforms the space around you into a gaming environment where your body movements act as controls. Place your device in front of you so that the app can use AI to track your body movements and display in-game controls on the screen.

The app turns exercises such as jumps, squats, lunges, push-ups, and burpees into mini-games. Thus, the exercises become a part of an on-screen game wherein your movements act as controls. Through this highly interactive method, you can burn plenty of calories, improve cardio and strength, and build muscles.

Download: Plaicise for Android | iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)

Zombies Run: Augmented reality is not limited to visuals. You can also experience it through audio. Immersive audio can help you visualize a setting and enhance your experience. Zombies Run is a running app that uses immersive audio to create a virtual adventure scenario.

The app places you at the forefront of enthralling missions and fun challenges. It is based on a zombie apocalypse setting. That helps you get your daily dose of cardio while participating in a dramatic and engaging AR game.

Download: Zombies Run for Android | iOS (Free, subscription available)

AR Fitness Devices

Apart from apps, some hardware devices use advanced features such as heads-up displays to facilitate the AR experience. One of these AR devices can make your workout sessions stand out and be a lot more efficient.

NordicTrack Vault: The NordicTrack Vault is a smart mirror that doubles as storage for its accessories. It is a complete home gym system that provides instructions and visual feedback for your workout. The Vault displays the correct form and workout instructions on the mirror. This makes it extremely simple to follow along.

The Vault gives you access to strength training, HIIT, yoga, and several other workout types. You can interact with the mirror through a touchscreen. With the iFIT personal training program, you can get more personalized recommendations.

Vuzix Smart Swim: Swimming is an excellent way to exercise the major muscle groups in your body. It is an efficient method to burn calories and build strength and endurance. If you want to become a better swimmer or track your performance, try an AR solution like the Vuzix Smart Swim.

Vuzix is a heads-up display device that can be attached to any regular swimming goggles. The device projects several performance stats right onto your goggles, including elapsed time, coaching instructions, set distance, lap timer, current pace, and more. This information can be extremely helpful, especially if you swim competitively.

Benefits of AR Fitness

Augmented reality has several benefits when used for fitness. One of the biggest advantages AR has is gamification. The interactive elements and ease of use significantly enhance fitness sessions. While virtual reality does provide a more immersive experience, it requires special hardware and has movement constraints.

A study published in the Health Education Journal measured the health effects in children of playing 40 minutes of Pokemon Go daily for 8 weeks. The benefits of playing this AR game included improved cardiorespiratory fitness, body fat percentage, and BMI after 8 weeks.

Additionally, AR provides benefits such as increased motivation and a hands-free experience. Working remotely has several challenges, including staying motivated to keep up with your fitness routine. AR apps can help address that by making the sessions more appealing with added interactivity.

Gamify Your Workouts With AR

Augmented reality is still in its early stages. While it cannot completely replace a structured workout routine, AR apps add enjoyable elements to it. For example, the next time you go for a run, try one of the AR apps to make it more fun and interactive.

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