Would you run if your life depended on it? How about if you had to save the world from the zombie apocalypse? Or maybe just to beat your friend Chad when he starts acting all competitive?
“Gamification” is a buzzword that’s been trending in productivity and success circles since mid-2015. It is a reference to the use of game-like structures and mechanics to reward achievements and change behaviors. Crowd-visible apps like Strava, My Fitness Pal, or Map My Ride use the mechanic, but even challenges within your team, your gym, or your educational environment are examples of using competition and gamification to increase results.
But what if you’re a person who doesn’t really care about competing with others? What if you’re much more inclined to stay home and play video games than go to the gym and participate in a challenge? Maybe you want to work out, but the right motivation isn’t there.
If this mindset doesn’t come naturally to you, a new approach to fitness may be just what you need!
We asked Liz Chamberlain, PhD about the need for motivation in starting a fitness program, especially when you are not a “fitness-minded” person.
“One of the biggest motivating factors for humans is novelty—our brains have an area that responds to novel stimuli (like a new app) because the potential for finding rewards in the new environment is greater than in familiar environments or routines. Simply the act of engaging in something new can activate dopamine, a feel-good chemical, that can increase motivation. Finding a new fitness class to take, changing a workout routine, or using a new app can increase motivation to exercise by activating the “aha!” feeling when we discover something new and rewarding.”
So consider this: instead of spending your gaming time on the couch, download a new app to get in the fitness mood! Pokemon Go hit the news in a big way last summer as thousands of users racked up miles walking around town to catch rare Pokemon characters. For five years, the Zombies, Run! app has been encouraging people to move in the real world in order to save their in-game character from zombies. Even when the weather is bad, games like Dance Central or Just Dance use console gaming systems and cameras to read and score your movements, allowing you to keep moving and gathering achievements indoors.
Winning at one of these gaming apps can easily boost your motivation. Once that happens the sky is the limit, and next thing you know, you’ll be off the couch running a 5K and looking for other ways to stay in motion.