The term gamification has become more relevant in the fitness industry over the past several years. The rising popularity of this term is due to the fact that wearable fitness trackers, designed to promote the gamification of fitness, were the number one fitness trend in both 2016 and 2017 according to the ACSM Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends.
Gamification is defined as, “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (such as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Wearable fitness trackers provide elements of gamification to fitness, encouraging exercise participation and adherence.
Like most wearables, you have to use fitness trackers the right way to maximize their benefits. The proper way to use wearables varies from device to device and person to person. However, one of the most important steps is to identify how you're best motivated.
We've outlined three tips around maximizing gamification with wearable fitness trackers to get you started.
1. Set Goals & Objectives with Rewards
Most wearables have a built-in goal setting system and provide metrics so you can track your progress. For example, the MYZONE activity tracker uses MYZONE Efforts Points (MEPs) that reward effort based on the intensity and duration of the user’s workout. As MYZONE users accumulate MEPs they move up in MYZONE status, a reward system based on consistent performance over a period of time.
Identify the different types of goals you could set and track with your wearable and set up your own reward system in addition to the device's rewards system. If you meet your MEPs goal, calorie burn goal, or even your steps goal, reward yourself with something meaningful! For example, reward yourself with new workout clothes if you meet your goals for the month.
Be as specific as possible when setting goals and rewards. Be sure to set short term goals in addition to long term goals; you'll maintain motivation longer if you're meeting smaller short term goals along the way.
2. Look Beyond the Numbers
Most wearables provide users with a vast and detailed amount of data. While having detailed feedback can be incredibly motivating, it can also be overwhelming.
Occasionally, it's good to unplug from the numbers and check in with more subjective data. How did that workout make you feel – energized, strong, alive? Better yet, use your subjective data in combination with the data provided by your wearable to determine which types of workouts your body and mind enjoy the most. Research shows that we are more likely to persist in an exercise routine if we enjoy the experience of our workouts.
MYZONE has developed a “Rate My Workout" system that prompts users to rank their workouts on a five-point system from ‘dislike’ to ‘really like’. Users can then compare how they enjoyed their workout with the objective data provided (calories burned, average intensity, peak heart rate, MEPs earned) to determine which types of workouts serve them best.
3. Create Community
Competing with ourselves can be fun, but it's typically more rewarding if we share the experience with others. Many wearables provide the ability to connect with other users in the exercise community via Apps or website.
Ask others how they are getting the most out of their workouts by using their wearable. If you see others in your physical or virtual community doing workouts or hitting goals you want to be hitting, reach out and connect with them. There's power in community, and community provides the type of accountability many of us need to stay consistent.
MYZONE provides a Social Connections feature in the MYZONE App and MYZONE Moves website. MYZONE users can view, like and comment on their social connections’ workouts and invite each other into goals based challenges.
Be sure to create your own community using your wearable and proactively make connections with other users.
These are just three tips to get you started in maximizing the gamification capabilities of your wearable fitness tracker. Take some time to understand what motivates you most and use your wearable accordingly!