June 19, 2024


The importance of exercise

The best Nintendo Switch fitness games (2021)

6 min read


The $299 Nintendo Switch is one of the most versatile video game consoles ever — and that includes offering a variety of ways to burn calories. Even the cheaper $199 Switch Lite is compatible with the Joy-Con controllers, which is significant, as the smaller Switch can double as a portable gym.

Doesn’t matter if it’s cardio workouts, more traditional sports like tennis, rhythm games featuring the latest chart-topping hits or even a traditional turn-based role-playing game; there’s a little something for everyone when it comes to exercise games on the Switch. Most importantly, these titles will cost you far less than expensive monthly gym memberships. Be sure to check out the games below for Nintendo Switch experiences that’ll put that body to work.


Since releasing the groundbreaking Wii over a decade ago, Nintendo has continued to push the limits of motion control gameplay. There isn’t a better example of this than the unique and surprisingly ambitious Ring Fit Adventure. This fully fledged 20-plus-hour role-playing game is played with a unique controller that could only come from the minds of Nintendo. Players connect their Joy-Cons to a Pilates-inspired Ring-Con and leg strap to control a man or woman who can be best described as the cooler evolution of the Wii Fit Trainer. As players move along a fixed path by jogging in place, they’ll encounter everything from monsters to obstacles that challenge you to make various movements with the peripheral in order to beat them. Those who want more of a traditional workout can enjoy a general fitness mode as well.


Ubisoft’s ongoing dance-based Just Dance series has been a mainstay since debuting on the Wii in 2009. Most importantly, the yearly installments serve as a cool snapshot of some of the year’s most popular music. Until Just Dance 2022 releases in early November, Just Dance 2021 works well as a rhythm game that’ll surely burn some calories. The gameplay is pretty simple. Players just imitate the on-screen choreography with scoring based on everything from motion to rhythm. Those who have played previous iterations should know exactly what to expect alongside some new features like Quick Play Mode. Instead of being overwhelmed by the large song selections, Quick Play randomly selects a song for players. It helps that this edition’s soundtrack features hits from The Weeknd, Billie Eillish, Dua Lipa, Lizzo and more.


One of the most inventive fighting games in quite some time, Arms is a futuristic motion-controlled boxing game with a wild amount of depth. Those more interested in competitive play will find that Arms works best when using either a controller or handheld mode. However, there’s an incredible feeling with using the motion control option. Boxing on Wii Sports was definitely a workout, but Arms adds a cerebral layer to the fighting aspect and becomes a different fitness experience.


While Covid-19 had the gaming industry scrambling to figure out how to work from home, it also led some genius coders at Nintendo to create Jump Rope Challenge. A free-to-play surprise for Switch owners, this game simply requires you to make the motion of jumping rope with the Joy-Con controllers. The game does a great job of delivering the sensation of jumping rope and tracking your improvements over time. Those who are serious about the fitness end will be glad to know that there are third-party accessories available on Amazon to provide more of a realistic experience. Plus, that rabbit is heartwarmingly cute.


More than any game on this list, Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm & Exercise really feels like a semi substitute for the gym. This makes sense, as the Fitness Boxing series is a successor to the original Shape Boxing trilogy on Wii, which featured Gold’s Gym branding. In Fitness Boxing 2, everything from the length of workouts to intensity can be adjusted to fit the player’s liking. Even the five coaches will ask if players have their water bottle and towel ready or if they’ve stretched. Once the workout begins, players will find a fairly straightforward fitness game in which they’ll punch, duck and weave to reach a high score. Gamers looking for a workout-focused experience with some great progress tracking should give Fitness Boxing 2: Rhythm & Exercise a try.

Related: How the Oculus Quest 2 made me fall in love with working out.


1-2-Switch features 28 minigames that serve as a showcase for the Joy-Cons’ capabilities with many that don’t necessarily stick. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any minigames that’ll make users break a sweat. Some games like Milk, in which players have to milk cows as rapidly as possible, aren’t incredibly high-intensity workouts. Other games like Boxing Gym, where players mimic various punch motions, will definitely leave some players tired once completed.


When Mario isn’t attempting to save Princess Peach from Bowser or throwing bananas from extremely versatile go-karts, Nintendo’s favorite plumber is a clear sports junkie. Makes sense why he can run extremely high and run seemingly forever. Gamers who have played Wii Sports or the Wii port of Mario Tennis: Power Tour should know exactly what to expect from Mario Tennis Aces’ “swing mode,” which challenges you to swing your Joy-Con as if it were an actual tennis racket. Like many Mario sports games, there’s more to the core gameplay, with features like zone shots and speed zones that add a bit more depth. It’s even more entertaining with friends during multiplayer, which you can enjoy both locally and online.

505 Games

Before the more strenuous regimen of Crossfit became the current fitness obsession, the biggest workout craze in the world at one time was Zumba. Colombian choreographer Alberto Perlman went from selling VHS tapes on late-night infomercials to taking the world by storm with his interesting mix of hip-hop, salsa and martial arts. Of course, this craze eventually made its way to gaming. Stylistically, one of the coolest aspects of Zumba: Burn It Up on Switch is that the visuals feature live-action Zumba instructors. Beyond that, it’s a creative cardio workout that’s definitely in line with many other rhythm-based games. It doesn’t hurt that the soundtrack features popular artists including Cardi B, Daddy Yanky, Ciara and Steve Aoki.


Gamers looking for a light workout may find much interest in Ubisoft’s Sports Party. Though the minigames in the compilation utilize various motion controls, the intensity levels are pretty tame. Fitness-wise, this might be great for older individuals who can’t play more strenuous exercise games like Ring Fit Adventure or Jump Rope Challenge. Games like Frisbee, Golf and Beach Tennis will work up a little sweat, though. Players looking for more of a customizable touch can unlock various items for their avatar as well. Sports Party also features up to four-player multiplayer so you can burn calories with friends.

Plug In Digital

Individuals looking for a title that has that budget-quality throwback feel of many late-2000s Wii motion control games should look no further than Instant Sports Summer Games. The sequel to Instant Sports, the latest release from Breakfirst offers 11 minigames that are great for short exercises. Some of the more fitness-focused ones include tennis, hurdle race, bowling and baseball to name a few. Those who might find themselves a bit burnt out on the solo end will be delighted to know that Instant Sports Summer Games offers local multiplayer support for up to eight players as well.