We all want to do better for ourselves, whether it’s improving our diet, cutting out sugary snacks or getting healthier through increased fitness. Everyone begins with the best intentions and for the first week or two, we are right up there ticking achievements off our to-do list and regularly checking progress on the bathroom scales. However, when we don’t see instant results or our motivation for working out begins to flag, we head back to our old habits of a sharing bag of crisps in front of our favourite comedy reruns.
Fortunately, you don’t have to rely on personal trainers, expensive gym memberships and beginning the same cycle every 6 weeks and can look to gamifying your fitness routine for a health experience with a difference.
What is Gamifying?
Gamifying has been a buzz word in recent years and means to take a task and make it into a fun game. Parents have been doing it for years – who can tidy up the fastest, who can get the wrinkliest fingers in the bath and who can get be the first to get their pyjamas on. When it’s made into a game, even the dullest chores can be made to be fun and what originally felt akin to pulling teeth becomes an easy request with bonus motivation.
Children don’t get to have all the fun and there are plenty of ways to encourage your own motivation by taking a task that’s not-so-fun and turning it into a light competition, either alongside friends or just trying to beat a personal best.
How can I Gamify My Work-Out Routine?
Getting fit is a great goal but the journey can be ruthless and sometimes that ice cream genuinely seems to be calling your name from the freezer. Don’t despair though, you can get to it eventually but for now, let’s work on creating a game out of the most common workouts.
The simplest form of gamification is to set yourself a target and then try and best it. For example, your current best on (or off) the treadmill is running a mile in 12 minutes or you can currently achieve 3 miles in 30 minutes on the gym cross trainer. Put together a tracking sheet allowing you to visually see your improvements over time and then try to beat your personal best with each work-out. This type of game is easy to add ‘additional players’ to when wanting some light competition between friends and family and requires very little set up and maintenance between sessions.
Face off against a gym friend with a competition to see who can burn the most calories or run the furthest distance within a set amount of time. This is great if you want to work-out in sets and can trade what gym equipment you use, one of you on the rowing machine and one of you on an exercise bike and then trade or it works equally well on adjacent treadmills.
Dedicated Gamified Fitness Apps
If creating your own game doesn’t appeal, there are plenty of dedicated apps that take getting fit and make it fun. The most popular is Zombies, Run, a running app that has grown to over 1 million users since its launch and will see you collecting supplies to build a base while on the run from a hungry undead horde. The app has won awards for its accompanying story and provides plenty of variety whether you want to jog or run
Another popular app by the creators of Zombies, Run and made in partnership with the NHS (national health service for the UK) is The Walk, a story-driven game intended to help you reach 10,000 steps a day.
Although not a dedicated fitness app, PokémonGo was and continues to be an extremely popular app with all ages. The success has seen people, who previously had no intention of getting outdoors, to get off their sofas and walk thousands of steps in the name of catching their favourite Pokémon and has even shown people the benefits they can enjoy through regular exercise.
Gamifying isn’t restricted to only fitness routines, but anything can be made into a game, whether it’s trying to achieve all the colours of the rainbow in healthy foods or trying to best the time it normally takes to vacuum the house. The only limit is your imagination, so get out there and start gamifying your normally boring tasks!