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How Augmented Reality Raises the Bar for Fitness and Health Businesses

Pairing augmented reality with fitness seems like a natural development given how AR technology works and its many uses.

This is wonderful news, considering how many of us dread exercise. According to a report, only a few commit to healthy living despite its benefits. And given how physical activity may contribute to reducing the likelihood of diseases like diabetes and cancer, it seems more work should be done to make fitness extra fun.

Fitness can be a key component to improving a person’s quality of life. And now’s a great time for health companies to start promoting it with entertaining and mobile technology.

A Brief Explanation of AR

In our article on the differences between augmented reality and virtual reality, we explained what AR is. 

Essentially, augmented reality technology superimposes graphics onto real-world surroundings. It gives the illusion of digital art existing in your immediate environment. So it doesn’t replace the environment you’re in; rather, it adds or augments it with graphical elements.

For example, the La Brea Tar Pits project uses augmented reality technology to bring ice age animals into our homes. Hover your smartphone over a flat surface, and right before your eyes, a 3D model of a gigantic animal appears on your screen — all without changing the immediate environment your phone’s viewing.

That it enhances your immediate environment by augmenting it with digital art is a key element separating AR from VR. And this is a reason why augmented reality is arguably more suitable than virtual reality for exercise.

Image credits to Canva

The Role of Augmented Reality in the Fitness Industry

We’ve seen how augmented reality in learning spaces, manufacturing, retail, and other sectors improves the way people take in new information. It’s the same for the fitness industry as well.

With augmented reality, those who wish to get into a fitness routine can do so with more ease and increased motivation. Because AR merges the real and digital and allows users to interact with virtual objects in real-time — as Ronald Azuma says — there are plenty of opportunities for this technology to make working out fun and something people actually look forward to. 

If you run a tech company looking for innovative ways to level up your fitness app with AR, a smart way to make exercise fun is by gamifying it, an article in TechCrunch says.

Instead of having long-term health as the ultimate reward, why not incentivize working out with something more instant? Giving people short-term goals and rewards may help them build a habit over time, increasing the likelihood of adherence to their long-term goals, a study reveals. 

So why not apply the same principle to augmented reality and fitness?

5 Ways Augmented Reality and Fitness Are Compatible

Augmented reality makes gamified workouts and fitness more enjoyable. 

More often than not, we treat exercise like a chore. 

It’s a means to an end, especially when we don’t enjoy the activity we’re doing. That’s why many experts recommend enjoying your chosen activity to sustain your motivation. But what if there’s no such activity? What if the motivator you need is treating exercise like a game?

Augmented reality technology makes this workout and fitness goal possible. 

Just take a look at what Pokémon GO achieved. This AR game motivated droves of users to go out and catch all the pokemon on foot. Not many may have realized it, but players were taking long walks because of the game. Though the spike in activity dropped eventually, Pokémon GO can serve as a blueprint for those looking to build an AR app geared toward fitness. 

An existing suggestion includes a zombie apocalypse-themed workout where the runner’s goal is to escape the zombies viewable on AR smart glasses. It’s similar to the audio-based AR game Zombies, Run! (2012). Except with AR smart glasses, sounds of the ravenous undead will not be the only thing threatening to catch you.

You can access real-time data with AR smart glasses. 

We’re all familiar with how AR works on mobile devices. You view your surroundings with the AR app, and there you can see the AR art existing in the same space as you. 

Now imagine being able to view changing data on your heart rate, the calories you burn, and the number of steps you’re taking as you’re working out. Big tech companies like Apple and Meta are vying to be the first one to release a compact, lightweight, and cost-effective pair of AR glasses the public will embrace. And once this happens and AR glasses become somewhat of a norm, we can expect fitness apps to include this function from the get-go.

Augmented reality allows more freedom. 

An amazing part about exercising with AR glasses is it’s hands-free. Unlike with a smartwatch or smartphone, you wouldn’t have to lift a finger to view your workout stats. 

Every mile you run or any increase you make in workout intensity may instantly be projected on your AR glasses’ interface. But for this to work, AR smart glasses must be paired with an external device that receives such data. One example could be a wrist-worn device that checks your pulse rate as you exercise.

You can have an on-call (AR) workout buddy.

Exercise can be more enjoyable with someone by your side. Unfortunately, our friends are not available 24/7. But what if you had an on-call workout buddy — in the form of augmented reality art?

With either a pair of AR glasses or a smartphone, users can gym, run, jog, walk, hike, and even do indoor workouts with a cartoonish or realistic-looking virtual friend. 

This AI-enabled AR character can give users guidance or pep talk, or even compete against them if that’s what they need. Plus, if two users are available but miles away, they could be each other’s AR workout buddy (as avatars) and exercise as though they’re together. Hilarious as that sounds, it’s nice to put it on the back burner as an option.

Augmented reality is generally portable.

And lastly, AR is highly portable. 

With augmented reality, fitness routines can enjoy full mobility as heavy gear won’t be weighing users down. Instead of lugging headsets around your trail, all you need to do is either have your smartphone with you or wear lightweight glasses. 

Image credits to Canva

With AR, you can truly raise the bar for fitness. This technology can make users feel like working out isn’t just another task on their to-do list and that it’s something they can consider an exciting part of their day.

In Summary

Augmented reality technology can significantly enhance the experience of exercise through gamification.

Fitness and AR go hand-in-hand also because this technology is portable, allows full mobility, and is capable of giving users real-time data without lifting a finger.

At NarraSoft, our experience creating augmented reality art has given businesses across sectors like fitness, education, and gaming the means to grow their brand, closing the gap between them and their customers.

Reach out to us today for a free consultation or if you want to know more about the work we do. You may also chat with us if you’d like to start working with our team today. Email us at sales@narrasoft.com or send a message our way through our chat box or contact form.