If you’re not particularly thrilled to begin a new workout regime, it’s understandable. Fitness isn’t always the most welcoming activity, especially for beginners. What if we changed how you thought about exercise? Instead of “feeling the burn,” you completed a challenge or beat a level?
The concept of gamification is thinking about non-game activities in gaming logic. For example, by completing a challenge, you gain “points” that you can use to compete with a friend. At its roots, gamification changes the way you look at work or exercise. It reframes the work as a path to achieving your goals, opposed to work for work’s sake. Many different sectors have experimented with gamification — from schools to the workplace. Gamification has perhaps been most successful for exercise.
Make It Fun
There are many tangible benefits of gamification, which is why it’s been used in so many diverse fields. We’ll focus on the two big ones that can help you change how you view your workout. We’ve already hinted at one: Gamifying exercise makes it more fun. Instead of running on a treadmill or doing stretches, you’re now playing a game. This adds an element of fun! Depending on how you gamify the exercise (more on that later), you can either give it a competitive edge or a carefree amusement. Ultimately, you’re reframing the work as fun.
Gamifying exercise makes it more fun. Instead of running on a treadmill or doing stretches, you’re now playing a game.
Adding a game element to exercise also takes away the fear of failure. Let’s say one of your targets is to be fit enough to run a marathon. As the day nears, you realize you’re not there yet. Traditionally, missing your target means you’ve failed. This isn’t the case in gamification. Yes, you may have missed one of your goals, but instead of being a failure, you’re just missing out on one achievement or reward out of many. By laying out many goals and rewards, you take the significance and weight away from any single one. This makes it safe to fail, taking away a fear many have when they start working out.
Set Tangible Goals
Another advantage of gamification is that it compels you to create clear and achievable goals. After all, a game needs a goal to strive for. The specificity of these goals depends on you or a program you follow. Whether the goal is to walk five miles in a week or to lose more weight than another “player,” a goal gives you motivation to stick with your work routine. They give you something to aim for. Also, by reaching these goals, you get a sense of achievement. This boosts your self-esteem and creates positive connections with exercise.
Whether the goal is to walk five miles in a week or to lose more weight than another “player,” a goal gives you motivation to stick with your work routine.
Goals also act as a form of guidance. If your goal is to work yourself back into fitness after a fall, a long-distance jog may not be the best choice. Instead, swimming could be an effective workout. SMART goals also represent short-term targets that give you something to focus on, instead of a nebulous “get healthier” goal. This can help you maintain motivation while you work to get fitter, especially if your fitness or weight loss plateaus.
How to Gamify Your Exercise
Of course, you have to know how to gamify your workout to reap the benefits. Luckily, there are many options you can try, depending on how much guidance you want. One of the easiest ways to gamify exercise is to find an actual game. The gamified aspects of exercise, either goals or incentives, are built directly into the application.
One famous example of this is 2016’s Pokémon GO. The game used your phone’s GPS to locate you on the game map. As you wandered the area around you, you’d encounter Pokémon to catch. Pokémon GO was brilliant at hiding exercise as play. You didn’t see a step-counter or anything that told you that you’re working out. You were focused on the game. There are many other games that you can try, often for free, that can make exercise, and other aspects of your life, fun.
Pokémon GO was brilliant at hiding exercise as play. You didn’t see anything that told you that you’re working out. You were focused on the game.
If you want to take gamification into your own hands, you can design your own plan. The trick to a self-designed, gamified workout routine is to develop a system of goals, rewards, and penalties. This incentive-based reward system is crucial to your routine to succeed. It can also help to include a friend, which brings a competitive aspect — further gamifying the process. It’d also be helpful to find a tracking app, especially if your goals are based on steps, distance, calories burnt, or a point system you’ve developed. It may also help to create little games within your workout routine to add another layer of gamification.
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The idea of gamification has been around for a long time. Though you may not know it, you’ve probably been aware of it before this article. Have you ever seen the Disney film, “Mary Poppins?” A “Spoonful of Sugar” is gamification in song form. This song takes on a whole new level of relevance when you consider that many believe exercise to be the best medicine of all. By adding an element of fun to the work that should be done, you can help yourself turn the occasional workout into a healthy habit that you love.