According to recent testing by the Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise, Beat Saber (2018) may be more than just a fun way to spend an evening in. With all that block slicing, dodging and leaning, you could burn as many calories as playing tennis.
The Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise, which collaborates with professionals in the field of Kinesiology, bases their data on a game’s observed metabolic equivalent (MET) score, a standard way of defining the energy cost of physical activities.
The institute uses these observed MET scores, which they obtain by testing oxygen consumption and monitoring heart rate when playing VR games, and compares them to other activities such as tennis, baseball, or boxing—things that are already well documented.
Images courtesy Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise
Over the course of four playsessions conducted by an experienced, but not expert player, they determined a 60kg (132 lbs) Beat Saber player can burn on average 8.57 kcals to 9.86 kcals per minute during their final test—giving Beat Saber an average MET of 6.24, or the equivalent of the energy expenditure of playing tennis, which is rated between 6-8 METs.
There are a few caveats to achieve this score though; a player needs to keep movement at a constant – the higher the skill level of the player, the greater chance you have of hitting and maintaining those upper heart rate targets.
The report suggests turning off the ability to fail songs, giving you more chance to finish a full song instead of getting stopped after missing too many notes. This essentially lets you play the fastest songs without having to build up the required skill level to reach the end.
The Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise also published a handy chart that adjusts for weight:
Image courtesy Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise
Other games that rate at a similar 6-8 METs include Hot Squat (2016), a game that forces you to squat through barriers, and Fastest Fist (2016), a VR boxing game. The highest rated MET score, which the institute rates at 15+ METs is the VR boxing game Thrill of the Fight (2016), which they rate as an equivalent to the MET observed during sprinting.