If exercise feels like work, make it more like a game

Friendly competition and other aspects of "gamification" may help people become more active.

Published: January, 2018

If you're one of those people who meet their goal of 10,000 steps on most days, good for you. If you're not — and if exercising feels like a chore — maybe you just need to get your game on.

People who turned their step counts into a competition boosted their daily walking distance by almost a mile, according to a new study. The six-month-long study included 94 families who tracked their daily step counts with a wearable device or a smartphone. Half were randomly chosen for the "gamification" arm of the study, which was designed to encourage collaboration, accountability, and team spirit. These families received small prizes tied to achieving daily and weekly step goals. Just over half of the participants were women, and their average age was 55.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise

New subscriptions to Harvard Health Online are temporarily unavailable. Click the button below to learn about our other subscription offers.

Learn More »