Most people who enjoy an active lifestyle do not need added motivation to workout. They have developed a routine and do not find fitness a burdensome task. But no one is immune to mental or physical fatigue.

One way people can push themselves is by turning exercise into a game. Gamification is a common tactic used in various activities to promote further engagement. Active people may not know it, but they have probably relied on gamification to run faster or lift heavier weights. Since childhood, people have used competition or some form of games to maximize their physical capabilities.

Recent studies have shown that this motivation technique improves levels of fitness.

Lucas J. Carr, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of health and human physiology at the University of Iowa, was one of the lead researchers behind a study that showed that people who interacted with games on their Fitbits were more active and productive than those who did not.

In the study, two groups of participants were given Fitbits, but only one group used the technology along with MapTrek, a web-based game that moves a person’s digital avatar along Google Maps based on their number of steps. The group using the app competed against each other in weekly walking challenges, i.e., they made it into a game. The other group, who did not use MapTrek, did not have the ability to gamify their workouts. Those who participated in the MapTrek game averaged more steps than their counterparts.

“This is important, as wearing a Fitbit is a great way to self-monitor daily physical activity levels,” Carr told Healthline. “Self-monitoring has been shown as a good way to maintain physical activity and prevent declines in activity.”

“It’s difficult to say without testing these hypotheses, but if I had to speculate, I would say we need to continue to modify the game in a way that maintains high levels of engagement. Introducing new and fresh game features periodically is something we’ve discussed and plan to do in future studies,” Carr continued.