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Gamification of Health and Fitness

mangrothian
mangrothian Posts: 1,351 Member
So I read this article on the USnews.com website today:
The Health Benefits of Gamification
The principles of game theory can inspire you to walk more, eat better and even quit smoking.

Do you think that 'gamification' of the health and fitness industry is a good thing long term? I'm all for people using anything that is sane and not harmful (read: stupid diets, detoxes, unsafe exercise programs, etc.) to reach their goals, but is creating this system where the food reward that lots of people previously used is replaced by something else actually good in the long run? What happens if the rewards are removed, or lose their shine over time like so many repetitive reward systems do? Do you think that the people using them to keep motivated are actually learning the good habits they need to sustain their health & fitness goals in the long term?

As an FYI, I'm a regular on my fitbit workweek hustles, I play Pokemon Go (I'll damn well evolve that Magikarp soon, I swear) and have joined the Ilvermorny challenge through MFP, so it's not like I don't use the theory to help get me to my goals. I was working towards them before I started using these game style reward-based systems, but the mental dialogue of "oh no, I left my fitbit at home/it broke/went flat, my steps don't count now" thoughts that run through my head on occasion aren't really a good mindset, and I'm sure I'm not the only one it happens to.
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Replies

  • Cahgetsfit
    Cahgetsfit Posts: 1,913 Member
    Interesting question. I don't know. But I think turning things into games can be very beneficial to some people.

  • dykask
    dykask Posts: 800 Member
    Hmmm ... I do it some, but it is just for the competition aspect. I don't see a problem with it because before I was doing that, I would make up my own games while exercising to help me through. Face it, some workouts aren't that exciting.
  • HomeatWDW
    HomeatWDW Posts: 121 Member
    I think it's fine because it gives motivation for working out and turns something dull into fun. Years ago I loved Walk It Out for Wii but eventually it got boring because they never added any extensions. Pokemon Go appeals to me in the same way, and it's gotten my fat butt moving again. I've evolved six Gyrados because I live in a Magikarp hotbed, and getting a Pokemon Go Plus has allowed me to add different spins on the sub-games I make up for myself. Gameification isn't all that different than other gimmicks like the Orange Theory competition or the metaphysical Soul Cycle sell.
  • mangrothian
    mangrothian Posts: 1,351 Member
    HomeatWDW wrote: »
    I think it's fine because it gives motivation for working out and turns something dull into fun. Years ago I loved Walk It Out for Wii but eventually it got boring because they never added any extensions. Pokemon Go appeals to me in the same way, and it's gotten my fat butt moving again. I've evolved six Gyrados because I live in a Magikarp hotbed, and getting a Pokemon Go Plus has allowed me to add different spins on the sub-games I make up for myself. Gameification isn't all that different than other gimmicks like the Orange Theory competition or the metaphysical Soul Cycle sell.

    I totally understand the fun part (it's why I'm doing the competitions that I'm doing), and I guess the idea that the end justifies means if it get's peoples butts off the couch and moving about. It just seems that once the shine for the rewards or fun wears off, many people will be back at square one.

    P.S Totally jelly on the Gyrados. Finding them is certainly a chore here.
  • Packerjohn
    Packerjohn Posts: 4,855 Member
    If it helps some people fine. Personally I can get my business taken care of without needing a trophy graphic on my phone.
  • juliebowman4
    juliebowman4 Posts: 784 Member
    edited September 2016
    When I read the title of the post, I immediately thought of a trend I've noticed here:
    Boutique Fitness Studios.
    Instead of a traditional gym, they offer classes you may not find elsewhere: hot yoga, barre, etc. Then, after your class, sit down for a manicure or get your hair done. The gym/studio itself is usually glamorized with fits and finishes you wouldn't see in a traditional gym. (Chandeliers, fancy furniture in the entrance)
    It seems to me like a lot of hype and an expensive price tag for limited classes.
    It must be the trend of the week. I'm sure it will pass like all the others.
  • GottaBurnEmAll
    GottaBurnEmAll Posts: 7,722 Member
    I think this comes down to the individual and what their goal is. If the goal is fitness first, and game second, they'll stay when the shine wears off. If they're just in it for the game aspect, well, their head isn't really in the fitness place it needs to be. Maybe the odd one might have something click for them. Who knows? I could happen.

    Like you OP, I also participate in those Fitbit Challenges, and I also play Pokemon Go (I started out innocently, offering to hatch eggs for my son, and got hooked. We are so close to evolving our second Magikarp since we have a regular spawn spot near us.)

    But I was already a committed walker and runner before these things came into my life. Making a game of them only adds a new dimension to them.

  • stealthq
    stealthq Posts: 4,298 Member
    I like and use Zombies, Run, so I like some of it. I'd still run even if I didn't use the app. Music suits me fine. An audio book would be even better.
  • T1DCarnivoreRunner
    T1DCarnivoreRunner Posts: 11,473 Member
    stealthq wrote: »
    I like and use Zombies, Run, so I like some of it. I'd still run even if I didn't use the app. Music suits me fine. An audio book would be even better.

    Me too... Zombies, Run! makes running fun. I would never have run as much without it. While I've been slacking lately because I'm super busy, I intend to start season 2 as soon as things slow down (late Oct.).

    For me, the mental aspect provides a lot of motivation. This app is like watching TV, except I'm actually participating in the story as I run. It may not be obvious that there is a correlation, but hiking is very similar. There is a mental reward for hiking to a remote, peaceful area far away from other people, vehicles, buildings, etc. loaded with views, and a chance to meet / observe wildlife. Anytime you make the physical effort enjoyable (mental aspect), motivation and participation increases.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,966 Member
    I haven't read the article yet, but plan to. I assume it doesn't mean game theory like predicting how people will cooperate or refuse to cooperate.

    As a cyclist, I've been thinking about how some parts of the exercise world are evolving to be more game like. A lot of people ride with GPS based bike computers, which record their location (from which you get speed) and other stats. The computers all upload to sites like Garmin Connect and Strava. These sites have gobs of data, and use it cleverly. So, you get home, your ride uploads, and you see that you've crossed 3 races. The server compares your speed across each of them to everybody else who's ever ridden the same "segment." Now that you've unlocked that segment, the next time you're out, you push yourself to improve your ranking there. Each segment has a leaderboard, and you want the #1 spot. If you get it, others want to take it from you.
  • jemhh
    jemhh Posts: 14,273 Member
    I think that there will always be people who quit activity after awhile. Gamification might get more people moving but I would be surprised if, proportionally, there ended up being a sizable difference in the number of people who ultimately quit.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,076 Member
    So I read this article on the USnews.com website today:
    The Health Benefits of Gamification
    The principles of game theory can inspire you to walk more, eat better and even quit smoking.

    Do you think that 'gamification' of the health and fitness industry is a good thing long term? I'm all for people using anything that is sane and not harmful (read: stupid diets, detoxes, unsafe exercise programs, etc.) to reach their goals, but is creating this system where the food reward that lots of people previously used is replaced by something else actually good in the long run? What happens if the rewards are removed, or lose their shine over time like so many repetitive reward systems do? Do you think that the people using them to keep motivated are actually learning the good habits they need to sustain their health & fitness goals in the long term?

    As an FYI, I'm a regular on my fitbit workweek hustles, I play Pokemon Go (I'll damn well evolve that Magikarp soon, I swear) and have joined the Ilvermorny challenge through MFP, so it's not like I don't use the theory to help get me to my goals. I was working towards them before I started using these game style reward-based systems, but the mental dialogue of "oh no, I left my fitbit at home/it broke/went flat, my steps don't count now" thoughts that run through my head on occasion aren't really a good mindset, and I'm sure I'm not the only one it happens to.

    I don't think it will have much, if any significant impact on more people exercising over the long term...people get into these fads and get out just as quickly...game is fun, and then it's not. I know lots people who were all into pokemon go when it came out who are already done with it.
  • upoffthemat
    upoffthemat Posts: 679 Member
    Before cell phones and fitness trackers I was playing games in my own mind with fitness, competing with myself for PR's etc. I think it can help, it is just another tool in the box.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,966 Member
    http://zwift.com/

    homepage-panel-bg-01.jpg

    You make the guy on the screen go faster by pedaling faster or harder. All the other guys on the screen are in other basements all over the world.

    I've never tried it, I like bikes as a way to be outdoors.
  • T1DCarnivoreRunner
    T1DCarnivoreRunner Posts: 11,473 Member
    @NorthCascades How does that work? You put your bike inside on a stand and then hook up a device that feeds through your computer or TV? How long are the races?
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,966 Member
    I've never used it, so I don't really know.

    But here's an interesting thread about it, on another forum.

    Do you cheat on Zwift? Why?.. and does it matter?

    It's trainer season and the Zwift guys have done a great job of developing an online experience that makes it less sucky to ride indoors.

    Cheating... by cheating I mean either entering something aspirational for your weight (improving your w/Kg for the game) or setting up your trainer so that your power is over estimated if you are not using a power meter. Some cheats on there are obvious.. others more subtle.

    I decided to post this after seeing yet another ride on Strava from someone that I know struggles to stay with a group ride if the pace ramps up absolutely killing it on Zwift. It's not rocket science to sort what is happening there, but if it makes him feel good, maybe it's ok.
  • T1DCarnivoreRunner
    T1DCarnivoreRunner Posts: 11,473 Member
    No, I don't think that is ok. It is unfair to others. Even if there are no tangible prizes, cheating can discourage those who are following the rules and who still can't get as far as the player cheating. So potentially 1 person is getting more fitness because he feels better and several feel discouraged and quit as a result.

    The alternative is for the game to track skill level and pair players with others of a similar skill so the same people don't always win and the same people don't always lose.
  • Sometimes it motivates me to move. I went out one Sunday to get more steps in when I saw that if I did that, I'd win the "fitbit weekend warrior" trophy.

    I play Ingress. There's a fair amount of walking with that.

    But that's me. I imagine it doesn't work with everyone.
  • mangrothian
    mangrothian Posts: 1,351 Member
    edited September 2016
    Sometimes it motivates me to move. I went out one Sunday to get more steps in when I saw that if I did that, I'd win the "fitbit weekend warrior" trophy.

    I play Ingress. There's a fair amount of walking with that.

    But that's me. I imagine it doesn't work with everyone.

    That is a little of what I'm talking about; many people (I'm not pointing the finger at you here) are willing to go out on a walk to win the competition or earn the badge, but not simply because they'll enjoy the walk and it's good for them. I just feel there needs to be something else other than the reward system available in these apps to help people keep up these healthy habits once the rewards wear off.

    I guess if we knew what that 'something' was, we'd all be fit and healthy and endlessly motivated.

    ETA: My grammar was horrible. Edits had to be made.