Losing weight works better with a challenge

September 28, 2019

The weight loss hurdle may be easier in the face of a challenger – participants were observed to partake in more physical activity in step-counting contests than using activity trackers to monitor their own steps, according to a study at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) in Philadelphia, US.

About 602 overweight and obese adults were asked to wear step trackers and increase their daily steps from the initial average of 6,100 to 6,300 steps. The adults were sorted into four groups, where one counted steps andthe others were games-based, to encourage movement through prizes or competition.

After 6 months, all three of the games-based groups increased step counts by more than the control group of people, by around 100 miles more, and after another 3 months, only those who competed against one another continued to log increases in their daily steps.The adults who did games based on competition logged an average of 920 daily steps more than the control group, while games with encouragement from family/friends were tied to 689 more daily steps, and games with team collaboration to win prizes were tied to 637 more daily steps.

Dr. Mitesh Patel, Director of the UPenn Medicine Nudge Unit, said that setting goals in advance can help people stick to them and that there may be ways to keep moving that are more effective than simply wearing an activity tracker.

Competition-based games are advantageous: “You could even start a team competition in your own workplace to encourage everyone to get off the couch,” said Dr. Ichiro Kawachi, from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston.

Games can work even when people don’t know their competitors, as competition itself can increase your activity level and get the adrenaline pumping.

Category: Wellness and Complementary Therapies

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