Ridiculously Efficient Fitness: Gamifying Exercise

ROC Race
From left: Dora, Marissa, Deej and Dana at the ROC Race. © Marissa Brassfield

Today’s Ridiculously Efficient post shares strategies for gamifying exercise. In yesterday’s post, I revealed that obstacle races are my favorite way to get in shape, but I can’t run one every day. Between races, I have to keep myself honest with regards to training and diet, and I’ve done so successfully by turning these activities into a game.

What follows are some of the ways I gamify exercise. The idea with all of these is to build momentum, which is essential to get yourself to a place where you’re seeing results.

Yearlong Obstacle Race Challenge

Completing even one obstacle race is an incredible victory, no matter your state of fitness. What about at least one a month for a year? I’m in the middle of such a challenge now. Between March 31, 2012 and today, I’ve done five events. By the end of March next year, I will have done at least 16. And in the 2013 calendar year, I could do as many as 28. (I told you I was hooked.)

Fitocracy

Fitocracy is a free iPhone app that assigns point values to the various exercises and routines in your day. Levels, badges and leaderboards make exercise feel like a game, while social features like comments, props (the app’s equivalent of Facebook likes) and the ability to follow users add an extra degree of interaction.

Unlock additional Fitocracy badges as you complete Achievements, such as posting 50 comments or running 200 miles in your lifetime, and Quests like the Century Push, where users perform 100 pushups in as few sets as possible during a single workout.

If you join Fitocracy, follow me (username efficient) so we can keep each other motivated!

RunKeeper

RunKeeper is a free iPhone app that I just downloaded this past weekend after finding out that it syncs runs with Fitocracy. What I like about this app is that it calls out your pace on regular intervals — I set it to every 5 minutes — and uses GPS to track your location. I’ve previously used the Nike+ app and liked it as well, but I was specifically looking for something that syncs with Fitocracy.

Seinfeld Method

You don’t need an app to gamify exercise: just one of the zillion free calendars you get every year. Then follow Jerry Seinfeld’s advice and mark a big red X over each day you work out for, say, at least 30 minutes.

“After a few days, you’ll have a chain,” he told software developer Brad Isaac, who wrote about the experience in Lifehacker. “Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain. Don’t break the chain.”

Do you find that gamifying exercise keeps you on track?

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