Most video games don’t require much physical exertion, so your favorite hobby probably doesn’t provide you much exercise. But what if you could combine gaming and exercise to help you get fit?
It’s possible to do just that with these games. While they probably won’t replace proper fitness equipment (or a gym membership), they will get you off the couch and make exercise fun.
Let’s take a look at the best video games to help you get fit through exercise.
1. Ring Fit Adventure (Nintendo Switch)
Nintendo is no stranger to fitness games. Wii Fit launched in 2008 and introduced “exergaming” to the masses. And while it was successful, the Wii Fit titles suffered from an overly clinical presentation that made them hard to stick with.
Ring Fit Adventure, on the other hand, takes exercising and turns it into a proper game with Nintendo charm that’s actually fun to keep coming back to. Just snap one Joy Con controller into the Ring-Con (a Pilates Ring) and the other into the leg strap (both included) and you have everything you need.
The game is a light RPG where you run through levels and fight enemies using a variety of exercises. These target different areas, including your arms, abs, and legs. You’ll unlock more exercises as you go, all with varying attack power and enemy targeting. This means you’ll have to decide what’s best to use based on the enemies you’re facing—and how tired you are!
These RPG elements aren’t particularly deep, but they make you feel like you’re playing a game instead of following a bland exercise routine. The game’s difficulty scales to match your needs, so you can adjust it after a session if you find it too easy or difficult.
Apart from the lengthy adventure mode, you can also set up quick workout routines or even use the Ring-Con to exercise while you’re doing something else, such as watching TV.
It’s a great package whether you’re new to working out or just want something to fill in days when you don’t feel like going to the gym. The game shows you proper form and even helps you stretch before and after a session. If you have a Switch, this is probably the best overall exercise game you can buy. And unlike the others on this list, it doesn’t involve rhythm gameplay.
Buy it now: Ring Fit Adventure for Nintendo Switch
2. Dance Dance Revolution / StepMania (PS2/PC)
While Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) isn’t specifically billed as an exercise game, it can provide you with a great cardio workout. As you get to the higher difficulties, you’ll be sweating before you know it.
DDR was a cultural phenomenon in the 2000s, but it has since fallen out of general popularity. If you’ve never played it, the gameplay tasks you with stepping to the beat on four directional arrows. It starts out simple, but before long your feet will zip around as you rack up combos and make complex movements.
If you still have a PlayStation 2 sitting around, there are tons of home DDR releases to choose from (we recommend DDR Extreme 2 to get started). You can also pick up a cheap PS2 dance mat from Amazon or eBay.
However, this is a costly barrier to entry, especially if you don’t own a PS2. As an alternative, take a look at StepMania. It’s an open-source rhythm game for Windows, macOS, and Linux that’s a lot like DDR.
The title is free to download, though you’ll probably want to add more music to it by visiting StepManiaOnline. Pick up a USB dance mat on Amazon or eBay, and you’ve got everything you need to get your dance on.
Download: StepMania for Windows, macOS, and Linux (Free)
3. Fitness Boxing (Nintendo Switch)
This is another fitness-focused Switch game published by Nintendo. After gripping the two Joy-Con controllers in your fists and getting into a boxing stance, Fitness Boxing tasks you with punching to the beat.
You’ll find around 20 music tracks to time your jabs, hooks, uppercuts, and more to. The music is mostly comprised of instrumental versions of pop hits from the 2010s, so it’s not exactly an all-star soundtrack. However, the music serves mostly as a background beat for when you’re throwing punches, so it’s not a huge drawback.
In addition to completing your customizable Daily Workout, you can perform quick exercises when you’re short on time. Because you only need the Joy-Con controllers, you can fit a session in even while you’re traveling.
Fitness Boxing’s straightforward menus and somewhat robotic trainers make it closer to Wii Fit than Ring Fit Adventure in its presentation. However, it still provides a great home workout opportunity, as boxing offers a full-body workout. Just make sure you go into it expecting a fitness program instead of a full-blown adventure.
Buy it now: Fitness Boxing for Nintendo Switch
4. Just Dance (Various)
Just Dance first launched in 2009 and has enjoyed a yearly release since. It’s a rhythm game that has you dancing to a collection of pop songs using on-screen choreography. The game has to track your movements to score your performance, and it uses different methods to do this based on platform.
On the Switch, it uses the Joy-Con’s gyroscope to track your motions. Those who play on PS4 or Xbox One can use the PlayStation Camera or Kinect, if you have them. The PS4 also supports the PlayStation Move motion controllers. Amazingly, Ubisoft still releases Just Dance on the Wii, so you can dust off the old Wii Remote if yours is still working.
Otherwise, you can download the free Just Dance connection app and hold your phone in your hand as you perform. This makes it easy to jump into without purchasing any extra accessories.
While Just Dance doesn’t offer as intense of a workout as some of the other games here, its wide availability and fun gameplay make indoor workouts less boring. Most of the recent versions are pretty similar, so you can pick up Just Dance 2019 or Just Dance 2018 on the cheap and have just as much fun.
Buy it now: Just Dance 2020 for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4, or Wii
Download: Just Dance Controller for Android | iOS (Free)
5. Beat Saber (VR)
If you have access to any VR platform (including PlayStation VR, the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, or Oculus Quest), give Beat Saber a try for a virtual reality workout. Rhythm games tend to lend themselves well to providing exercise, and this one is no exception.
In Beat Saber, you’ll wield two lightsaber-like weapons and hit incoming blocks in time with the music. You’ll need to hit each block in the specified direction, which quickly becomes challenging at high speeds.
Like DDR, this might not tire you out until you hit higher levels of difficulty. But once it speeds up, you’ll be getting in a good workout and having a blast doing it. Beat Saber is one of the highest-rated VR games available, so it’s a must-play if you have a compatible headset.
Its only real negative is a small pool of included songs, but you can purchase more (or mod the PC versions to add them in) to remedy this.
Get Fit Through Exercise Playing Video Games
Whether you just want to get more benefit out of your gaming time or are looking to work out in the comfort of your home, these games offer genuine physical benefits. Train with them regularly, and you’ll definitely start seeing results. Who says video games aren’t healthy?!
To take your efforts to get fit away from the TV, check out the best workout apps for even more help getting in shape.