According to recent testing by the Virtual Reality Institute of Health and ExerciseBeat 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.

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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.

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  • Str][ker

    Some notable omissions from the list are ones which my wife and I play regularly for our cardio workout.
    1) BoxVR – Some great cardio in this.
    2) Holo Ball – Great exercise moving back and forth, smashing the ball
    3) Sparc (I mainly play this one but really get into it and get a great workout)

    • NooYawker

      I have Knock out league and it’s tough.

  • Firestorm185

    I wonder what sprint vector would get…

    • Lee McDonald

      I thought the same. That game is very physical. Haven’t played beat saber yet though. Which in you opinion is more physical?

      • Firestorm185

        Haven’t had the chance to play beat saber yet either, but I think they’d be pretty close, maybe with a slight lead to sprint vector depending on how fast you want your character running.

  • impurekind

    I have no doubt about it. This is the sweatiest I’ve ever gotten playing a VR game–in the best possible way.

  • Justos

    BoxVR is a much better workout but BeatSaber brings the fun!

  • F1ForHelp

    Quoting myself from the description of a video I made: This game is the most athletic thing I’ll ever be decent at.

    I find it funny that these types of games go completely against the slouching gamer stereotype. (Which includes myself.)

  • Skippy76

    Uuhhmmm NO!!
    Tennis involves running and lunging and swinging our arm full strength.
    This game only involves flailing your arms around and occasionally dodging an oncoming wall. A normally fit person can play this without losing a drop of sweat.

    • F1ForHelp

      Yeah it is stretching the truth a bit.
      I just hope the headline doesn’t downplay the actual benefit the game has.

    • AndyP

      Certainly involves more exercise than sitting on your backside playing PC games, and never playing tennis.

      • Skippy76

        Definitely but the claims this article states are very far fetched..

    • Caven

      The individual actions in tennis are much more strenuous, but you also do a lot less of them. Nobody playing tennis swings a racket multiple times per second, but that’s something that happens almost constantly in Beat Saber, and with both hands. Even though no actual force is needed to hit the blocks, it’s often necessary to move the arms quite quickly in order to successfully complete each swing. It’s not simply a matter of waving arms around. They frequently must be quickly accelerated and decelerated, which takes much more effort than simply moving moving them at a mostly linear rate.

      I also disagree about swinging the racquet at full strength. A well-timed smash can be of great value in tennis, but most of the time whacking the ball at full power just means launching the ball way out of the court and giving the opponent the point. Also, since a smash frequently ends the point, they’re often followed by a short rest period as everyone resets for the next point. Even if somehow every swing of the racquet could be done at full strength, that’s still only one swing per return in the vast majority of cases. Legs see a lot more use in tennis than the arms do.

      It’s also worth noting that they were talking about playing on Expert, which is very unforgiving. On any lower difficulty I would agree with you, as even Hard is nowhere near the challenge level of Expert.

  • david vincent

    I already find ‘Eleven : Table Tennis’ more intense than Beat Saber (both played at the highest level), so I won’t even speak about real tennis with hard hitting and sprinting…
    But I still like Beat Saber, it makes a nice and fun warm-up before the serious stuff.
    One thing where I think everyone will agree : boxing games played seriously (heavy punches, no jabs) are the most demanding of all.