Struggling to exercise? There’s an app for that

Struggling to exercise? There’s an app for that

Want to exercise more, but struggling to get into the habit?

Exercising with a buddy and using a gaming system – either through a Fitbit or similar gaming app – might help you get on the right track, according to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Boston University.

For the study, researchers followed 94 families, each of which tracked daily step counts using a wearable device or smartphone. Some of the families were selected into a system that included gaming elements using principles from behavioral economics, like earned points, loss aversion and rewards. The other families did not play under a gaming system.

At the end of the 12-week study, the researchers found the families who used fitness trackers with a game system increased their daily step counts and hit daily fitness goals 27 percent more than families who did not participate in a game system.

Competing priorities and busy schedules are just a couple examples of obstacles that keep us all from exercising or generally creating good habits, says Dr. Sara Brown, an Advocate Medical Group physician specializing in sports medicine.

“These study results make sense because people are naturally competitive. While these results are promising, I am not sure about applying them broadly because I think people might experience technology fatigue,” she adds.

Dr. Brown recommends a couple tips to turn certain habits into long-term lifestyle changes:

“Make exercise, or any good habit, a part of your routine and set attainable goals. This way, these changes can become a long-term habit rather than a short-term one,” she says.

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About the Author

Jaimie Oh
Jaimie Oh

Jaimie Oh, health enews contributor, is regional manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Health Care. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has nearly a decade of experience working in publishing, strategic communications and marketing. Outside of work, Jaimie trains for marathons with the goal of running 50 races before she turns 50 years old.