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Of gaming interventions with social incentives, one incorporating competition most effectively increased physical activity among overweight and obese adults, according to a trial in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The 602 participants tracked their steps with a wearable device and set goals for increasing their daily steps by 1500 or more. They were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 gaming interventions for 24 weeks or to a control group (receiving only wearable device feedback for 36 weeks). The 3 gaming groups had different social incentives: reporting progress to friends or family, collaborating to earn or lose points as a team, or competing to vie for top rank.
All 3 gaming interventions increased participants’ daily steps from baseline compared with the control group. But participants in the gaming group that incorporated competition showed the greatest improvements—a mean 920 daily steps more than those in the control group. Only the competition-based intervention group had significantly greater physical activity than the control group 12 weeks after the game ended.
Slomski A. Gaming Intervention Increased Physical Activity in Overweight Adults. JAMA. 2019;322(20):1948. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2019.18981
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