2 Strange Tips for Better Health and Fitness (Subscriber Giveaway Closed!)

In the name of better health and fitness, I’m going to buy one lucky subscriber a Quest 2 AND the game I discuss in this article ($300+ value). Read on for details.

virtual reality for better health

Getting fit and healthy is generally perceived as work and avoiding temptation, respectively. But it doesn’t have to be this way! There is no way to better health and fitness than by finding ways to make it not only painless, but joyful. I’ve recently discovered two ways to do that, one for fitness and one for diet.

Hate Working Out? Try Virtual Reality

I don’t hate working out. I enjoy it. There is, however, a difference between enjoying exercise and having the time of your life doing it. For example, I enjoy playing full court basketball much more than I enjoy lifting weights because the competition is so much fun. That brings me to the topic at hand—virtual reality.

I recently bought an Oculus Quest 2. This is a completely wireless VR headset that lasts about two hours on battery. It costs $300, which is a lot of money, but that is actually a bargain for the technology. Case in point, Facebook/Meta loses money on every Quest 2 they sell. They aren’t stupid—they sell it at a loss to make the money back on software sales and to gain market share (a common practice in the gaming industry). But it remains a very good deal for the consumer!

I originally bought the Quest 2 to play the popular game Beat Saber, because it’s fun to slice blocks to music for some reason. Browsing through other games, I found a game for only $10 that intrigued me. Little did I know, it would provide way more value than its small price tag.

Nintendo Started It With Wii Boxing

Way back in 2006, Nintendo launched the Wii console with motion controllers. One of the launch titles was Wii Sports, and I remember loving the boxing game in it, and getting in a great workout from it. I’ve often wondered why I haven’t seen much in the virtual boxing space in the 15 years since, because that was such a fun and winning formula. It turns out, I just wasn’t looking hard enough!

I saw two boxing games in the Quest 2 store. One was Creed, based on the boxing movie. The other was called Thrill of the Fight. Long story short, I found that Thrill of the Fight is the better workout and better game, so it’s the one I bought.

In my first play session, I was drenched in sweat to a similar level as when I play full-court basketball. That’s remarkable, considering that I only played maybe 30 minutes. In addition to that, my back, arms, and lats were absolutely torched. Three days later, and I can still feel some soreness in my back! I’ve wanted to play more, but had to rest. And why? I was swinging like a madman, of course, trying to knock out “Ugly Joe.” I was going for combos that Evander Holyfield has never heard of.

If you think this is a cute joke and not real exercise, you vastly underestimate this game. Do you want to know what level of workout this is? The highest level. “Thrill of the Fight burns 15 calories a minute, the metabolic equivalent of sprinting.” (source) If you’re a frenzied fighter like me, I’d bet it burns even more calories than that. This could be the most fun path to better health and fitness!

I’m not a boxer, but this game simulates what I imagine it would be like. I had to learn to keep my hands up because I kept getting rocked. At times, I was so tired that keeping my hands up was a challenge! Being a VR game, the experience feels very real! You can even buy a haptic vest to “feel” hits, but I haven’t tried that.

One of the coolest things about this game—and the Quest 2 in general—is your locomotion options. If you have a big room, you can set the boundaries to cover a large area, and move around in the ring like an actual boxer! But say you are wheelchair-bound or can’t move around because of a small space—even in those cases, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t play this sitting down or standing up with little moving room, because the opposing boxer comes to you. Just make sure that the swinging area in front of you is clear!

I’ve already read comments from a few people saying they’ve lost a lot weight playing this game, and it’s easy to see why. I’m in good health, and can play full court basketball for hours. But I had to take a couple days off because I’m apparently not in VR boxing shape!

The workout you get from this game is absolutely unfair considering how fun it is.

At the end of a match, when the ref announces the winner, I’m standing there with sweat pouring down my face and my hands in the air, confident that I’ve won. I’ve played video games all my life, but winning a round in this game feels more satisfying than a win any other game because of how hard I work for it! I haven’t lost or been knocked down yet, but my boxer avatar has gotten woozy from my occasionally “100% attack, no defense” technique. You can also adjust a number of settings to change the experience, but I haven’t looked into that yet.

Downside: The downside I’ve found to this game (and VR in general) is eye fatigue/strain. I have drier eyes than most because of LASIK surgery a decade ago, but I think I also forget to blink. So I’ve gotten into the habit of putting in eye drops before playing (and trying to remember to blink), and that helps. It’s just something to be aware of.

All in all, this game is incredible. It feels like an experience, and I am continually astonished at the workout it provides. I think this sort of thing is going to play a huge role in the fitness industry moving forward. There’s no need to force boring exercise when we have super fun alternatives like this. In addition, because you get so engaged in the game, you’re able to push yourself much harder. Case in point, that’s why I overdid it my first time playing!

Want Better Health But Love to Snack? Try Spinach

The other night, it was late and I was a little bit hungry. Whenever I get hungry late, I tend to crave foods that aren’t so good for my health. These days, I don’t really *have* those foods around because I believe in the “if you buy it, you will eat it” philosophy. So I try not to buy things from my irresistible list like tortilla chips and ice cream often (because I will eat them quickly). 

On this night, I remembered I had frozen bags of spinach in the freezer. They’re 10 oz bags from publix (a Florida grocery store) that you can steam in the bag in the microwave. Throw the bag in for 6 minutes and you have cooked spinach. Ta da.

So I did that.

I threw the cooked spinach in a bowl, added pepper, Mrs. Dash seasoning, and balsamic vinegar. I ate it, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint! It was filling, absolutely delicious, and extremely healthy. I was so taken with the experience that I started fantasizing about future late night spinach snacks.

When I eat unhealthy food, I love the taste, but I often feel bad after eating it. I’m not talking about shame here, I’m talking about physically feeling bad, like in my stomach. After eating the spinach, I felt really good and satisfied, which makes sense because it’s exactly the type of food the body wants.

Sometimes we get too rigid in how we think about food. Spinach is seen as a complimentary side dish in a larger meal, often used in dinners, salads, or breakfasts. But by itself (cooked) with some flavorful seasoning and balsamic vinegar, it makes for a delicious and nutritious snack. If you buy frozen, steam-in-the-bag spinach, it takes zero preparation effort, and just six microwave minutes.

Long-term, extrapolate the effect of a spinach snacking habit against a tortilla chip snacking habit. The difference must be astronomical. I’m not getting any processed corn and vegetable oil from the chips, and I am getting a micronutrient explosion from the spinach. I can even say with complete honesty that I enjoy the spinach snack more than I do tortilla chips overall, because it tastes good and I feel good after eating it.

If you hate spinach, I suppose this isn’t helpful. But there are many other frozen vegetable options that could have a similar effect. It’s easier than ever to make healthy food accessible with minimal prep and clean-up. If you don’t like to cook, there are other ways to eat healthy food!

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