Over the past several years, I’d been watching educational YouTube videos
while on an elliptical in a gym. During the pandemic, however, gyms
closed down, and I had to figure out what to do.
Late last year I bought a cheap exercise bike that I’m actually very
satisfied with. Instead of watching videos on my phone or tablet, I can just
roll my bike in front of my computer monitor and watch whatever I want there.
This was a great replacement for my usual routine with the elliptical, but
early this year I realized I could actually play video games while on the bike,
too. The only requirement was that the games be playable with a controller.
Some games have worked better than others: I’ve found that the ones that
have some kind of psychological connection with physical activity are
the ones that work best for me. For example, running around in
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey made me pedal harder on my bike. Though I
didn’t do anything scientific to measure what kinds of games resulted
in better exercise, I did find that the ones where I was doing something
physically active in the game felt more satisfying than others. In contrast,
I tried playing some puzzle games but realized I was spending so much energy
thinking that I almost forgot to pedal.
Over the years, there’s been a lot of buzz about fitness games, and while
I also bought the excellent Ring Fit Adventure last year, the fact
is that there will always be fewer fitness games than video games in general,
and all games get boring after a while (Ring Fit Adventure only lasted a month
or two for me, though I’ve been meaning to get back to it). So it’s nice to
know that even if a game’s controls aren’t directly powered by physical
activity, the game itself may still be exercise-friendly.