Men's Fitness

Gamified Exercise

It’s all fun and games with the exercise apps bridging the gap between fitness and downtime


The gami cation of exercise is nothing new. However, historical­ly it has been the epitome of both poor video games and ine ective exercise advice. Hope is at hand, though, with a new crop of games that make movement, location and exercise integral to the experience, rather than an afterthoug­ht.

What these games all share in common is that people are drawn to play them because of the novel uses of di erent kinds of movement. e game play, narrative and motion interactio­ns are all working together. e health bene ts are collateral.


is gami cation of tness and health has been on the rise for some time. “We are seeing more fun ways to mix and merge

tness, gaming and entertainm­ent,” says Valerie Vacante, founder of strategy and innovation company Collabsco. “Top gaming and tness trends include VR, trackers and mobile play. e global Interactiv­e Gaming Market is anticipate­d to grow by £5.44 billion during 20202024, according to Technavio.”

Add to this the rising cost of gym membership, as well as the current complicati­on of social distancing, and it’s no surprise that many people are turning to games consoles and smartphone­s to ll the gap.

“While not at the level of Wii Fit,” says James Batchelor, UK editor of gamesindus­, “there has been a renewed interest in video games built around exercise. Ring Fit Adventure appears to have been more popular than even Nintendo expected, hence the worldwide shortages. In fact, the pandemic has played a big part in the resurgence of gami ed exercise. Having a game you can exercise to is a real boost for some people.”

If done well, the combinatio­n of video-game mechanics and tness incentives can make a genuine di erence to personal training. Video games are e ective at getting players to do things they don’t always want to do, in return for secondary rewards: spend an hour collecting resources and you can have a new gun or vehicle; take this item across the map and you’ll get some money, and so on.

At a rudimentar­y level, even games like Pokemon Go were e ective at getting people out for a walk in return for nding virtual creatures and items. Games like this are primarily aimed at young gamers, but also attract an older audience intrigued by the social phenomenon that is getting their kids outside for exercise.


e new crop of gami cation apps and video games extend beyond this fad, though. ey are e ective not only because of a popular moment, but for the long tail that true bene ts require.

ey are aimed not only at people who enjoy video games, but at an older audience as well. ey combine interactiv­e narrative, exploratio­n and social engagement in ways that can make a real di erence to how consistent people are with exercise.

e best of these don’t pretend to be replacemen­ts for convention­al tness, or the traditiona­l activity-tracking apps like Strava or Run Keeper. But they do o er a novel – and signi cant – extra incentive for being consistent and discipline­d.

To discover what tness improvemen­ts these new apps might o er you, here are some games that stand out from the crowd...

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