If you’re struggling to stay motivated during the lockdown, perhaps it’s time to add a new dimension to your training.

Various app developers have ‘gamified’ exercise by blending technology and fitness in the virtual world.

What is gamification

While the concept of gamification is by no means new, it has been steadily gaining momentum over the last few years and is now well entrenched in the fitness world.

Gamified fitness already comes in various flavours, from gaming for fitness and making a game of fitness, to real-world events based on popular games.

At its most basic level, gamification is the act of making fitness fun and interesting by incorporating game-based elements to drive behavioural change.

As such, gamification has the potential to make mundane tasks, like those at-home workouts, more interesting and engaging.

Interactive fitness games

The most obvious application of gaming in fitness is the use of gaming consoles to get people active. Gaming consoles like Nintendo’s Wii Fit and Wii Fit U, or Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect are a great way to get active while having fun, especially with your kids.

The games also offer users an incentive to beat each other or achieve new high scores, which keeps everyone playing.

As the technology has advanced, video game developers have been able to create extremely interactive and immersive games that get people moving such as Wii Luge, UFC and Zumba Fitness, to name just a few.

Smartphone-based fitness

The more popular and pervasive form of gamified fitness are available through apps for your smartphone or tablet.

The more common apps like Nike+ or Strava allow users to track multiple activities and then stores this data online for comparison at a later stage. This allows users to track their results and improvements over time and can work towards beating personal bests.

They can also follow friends, teammates and other users to see what they are doing or participate in group challenges.

The gaming element is brought to life through the rewards users receive for their achievements. You can also compete against friends or other athletes in the in-app community by racing them virtually, such as a distance or time-based challenge.

And then there is the ultimate form of gamified fitness, which is brought to life through immersive gaming experiences via apps like Zombies, Run!, which delivers a complex narrative that leads to more daily activity.

Zombies, Run! provides users with more than 30 different missions controlled, in part, by their relative pace, interspersed with songs from their playlist as they walk, jog, or run away from zombies.

And this is not just a hype-fuelled trend either. Research has shown that people who play a game based on a highly believable narrative actually produced a change in their daily habits which endured beyond the time spent playing the game.

Other gamified fitness apps to check out include:

  • Strava: Track your activity with granular analysis capabilities, with the ability to join Strava Challenges and compete virtually against other athletes from around the world. Users also earn milestone badges and get listed on leaderboards.
  • Adventure Walks: Got a big garden? Turn your walk into an adventure by incorporating elements of a treasure hunt. It’s great for getting active with your kids.
  • Achievement: Rewards users for healthy activities with points for taking steps with a Fitbit, tweeting healthy articles, or tracking sleep or activities on a number of different apps.
  • Interval Run: Vocal queues and feedback guide you with through interval exercise sessions such as Tabatas or a One Hour Program.
  • Teemo: Helps users find the time to work out while having fun by combining short, simple exercises with an adventure game you can play with friends.
  • Fitocracy: Every workout is a mission, with a new task assigned to you each day that will get you fit. Virtual rewards are earned with each feat that gets accomplished.

The wearables workout factor

Garmin also produces devices that have functions like Virtual Partner or Virtual Racer, which help users achieve a desired time or goal. This is the ideal way to practice social distancing, while still benefiting from the competitive element when training with a partner. Once you’ve completed a workout, users can share their data and compare personal bests via leaderboards.

Devices like the FitBit range also help users track their steps and calories burnt, which can add a great gaming element to your time at home during the lockdown as you work to reach your daily targets by remaining as active as possible.