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Losing weight and getting in shape is hard. If it wasn’t then more than a third of the adults in the U.S. and rising wouldn’t be obese.
While your doctor’s traditional advice of eating less and exercising more is great, it doesn’t address the psychological aspects of fitness that have a huge impact on whether or not you stick to a program, such as boredom and procrastination.
And, let’s admit it…
We’ve all been guilty of putting off getting in shape at one time or another.
Luckily, new research is offering insight into a simple step you can take to boost your chances of fitness success…
Incentivizing your fitness
The study, reported in JAMA Internal Medicine, followed 200 adults from 94 families for a period of 12 weeks.
All study participants tracked their daily step counts with either a wearable device or a smartphone to establish a baseline and then selected a step goal increase. They were given performance feedback by text or email for 24 weeks.
About half of the adults participated in a gamification arm of the study, where they were entered into a game with their family and they could earn points and progress through levels as a way to enhance social incentives through collaboration, accountability and peer support, as well as physical activity.
And, the results showed that by turning fitness into a game, participants were more likely to reach and exceed their goals.
In fact, the people in the gamification arm not only achieved step goals on a greater proportion of their tracked days than those who were not playing the game, they also had a greater increase in average daily steps compared with baseline than the control group.
And, while the results show that physical activity declined during the 12-week follow-up period in the gamification group, it was still better than that in the control group for both daily goal achievement and overall average of daily steps.
Your fitness game
So, if you’re ready to get fit, make it a game. Here are some tips:
- Consider “playing” against your spouse, friends, children or co-workers.
- You can track your daily step count, number of days you exercise, calories consumed and more.
- The key is to set clear goals and be accountable.
- Keep a food and fitness journal and set up ways to earn points and progress through levels to gain rewards.
For example, for each day that you hit your step count goal, you could earn 10 points and for every 100 points earned you move to a new level. As a reward for each time you level up, you could plan on buying yourself a treat or maybe allowing yourself an extra hour of “you time” to just relax.
To amp up the competition, you could compare notes with your fitness group at the end of each week and have the winner’s treats paid for or provided by the rest of the group.
However you decide to do it, by adding a little dose of gamification, you can amp up your fitness and reach your goals faster.
- Did game design elements increase physical activity among adults? — The JAMA Network Journals