Online Program

Gamification of Physical Activity: A Tool to Change the Culture of Sedentary Lifestyle

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 9:30 a.m. - 9:50 a.m.

Benjamin Lee, School of Medicine, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN
Fatima Barnes, EDD, MPH, MSIS, School of Graduate Studies and Research, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN
Stephanie McClure, MD. FACP, Center for Women’s Health Research, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN
A culture of inactivity permeates every facet of life in America and contributes to a host of chronic diseases. A potential solution to persuade Americans towards healthful exercise habits lies in the “gamification” of physical activity through wearable fitness trackers. Modern wearable fitness trackers are attempting to gamify physical activity and make it “gameful” to everyday individuals by tracking and quantifying the user’s physical activity for personal monitoring, sharing on social media, and competing with others. 


This study explores the concept of gamifying physical activity to evaluate its efficacy as a tool to increase the physical activity of everyday Americans.


200 affiliated study participants will be equipped with a wearable fitness tracker to track their individual step-counts for 3 months. The first week is dedicated to approximating individual baseline step-count for individual normalization of data. All participants will be enrolled in an Online Community Group that publicly displays real-time physical activity of each participant to examine the effects of gamification at the group level. Starting at the end of the second month, the less active half of the participants will receive wellness support to improve their physical activity. This allows for further testing of gamification by examining how non-supported participants will respond to other participants becoming increasingly active, as viewed from the Online Community Group.


The results of this study will aid in the development of highly scalable public health interventions that will promote a culture of health and physical activity.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Program planning
Public health or related education
Public health or related research
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Discuss “gamification” in the context of public health, especially for promoting physical activity and a culture of wellness. Evaluate the efficacy of “gamifying physical activity” for the purpose of promoting physical activity and a culture of wellness. Design a highly scalable and versatile physical fitness program that can be implemented at any organization and or community, large or small.

Keyword(s): Health Assessment, Community-Based Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am mentored by both Drs. Barnes and McClure on this project. I am also a fellow at the RWJF Center for Health Policy and submitted a grant proposal for this study. This study will be presented at public health-related conferences to share the information with peers and colleagues. I will co-author this publication with my mentors at the end of the study.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.