Motivation is an important aspect of getting fit. “It rains”, “I like to sleep in”, “I already did a run this week”, “I need a rest day”, “I still feel my previous workout”… There are always a million excuses to not go out. This is why you need to motivate yourself to go out and run or train. I’ve found a way to motivate myself and that is with badges and a leaderboard. Let me explain how they help me stay motivated, and how Withings uses them to help you. A guest post by Dirk Schrama about Health Mate, an app to get motivated.
Badges are used for getting people motivated by supporting their efforts with a (virtual) reward. Whenever you reach a certain goal or do something special, you get rewarded and get a badge for that. It’s a bit like in elementary school when you got a sticker when you did something good. Now, whenever I run far, walk a certain distance in a day or reach a new lifetime milestone I get rewarded with digital badges. I know I can’t hang them on my wall but still, I’m a sucker for getting more badges. Withings uses badges if you have the Withings Pulse Ox, their activity tracker.
I have a Withings Pulse since the early days. I love to know how many steps I take every day and to see if I can get to the “10.000 steps a day” milestone, which is what the World Health Organization tells us to hit daily. The Pulse measures my sleep, my heart rate, the oxygen level in my blood and all the steps I take during the day. I can earn three kinds of badges with my Pulse and they are all related to taking steps. Maybe you should give us also some badges for sleep Withings ;).
• The first one is the maximum amount of steps taking in a day; daily steps. When I did an ultrarun last year I was wearing my Pulse. I got over 100.000 steps this day and contacted Withings why there wasn’t a badge for that. You can read more about that story over here.
• The second one is lifetime elevation. The more I walk stairs, hills or mountains the more elevation badges I earn (Editor’s note: yes the Pulse is equipped with an altimeter!). This is the most difficult one for me, because the Netherlands is a really flat country.
• The third one is lifetime distance. The more steps you take in life, the more badges you earn. For two of the three, I’ve earned all the badges, however I haven’t got a clue what the upper limit for lifetime elevation is, but I’m willing to find it out and keep on climbing stairs and running uphill.
Why do badges work?
The question is, why does this work? Some scientific research has been done, but I don’t think that is really interesting to talk about. For me it works for a simple reason: I want to earn these badges! This explains why…
• I’ll take the stairs instead of the elevator,
• I’ll walk to the grocery store instead of cycling there,
• I’ll walk some extra steps when possible.
It motivates me, so I get more fit. I see on my Health Mate dashboard that I need some extra meters in elevation for my newest lifetime elevation badge. So I think I will go out for a run this afternoon. 🙂 This is really an app to get motivated!
Where badges are primarily for yourself, leaderboards are a social thing. You can brag about your badges and share them on Facebook, but that’s it. There is no sort of competition. With leaderboards you are not only challenging yourself, but also other people. The more you walk or run, the higher you rank on the leaderboard. Withings has multiple options to challenge yourself, including with a leaderboard.
At the Withings Advocates Challenge you can see how many steps other users of the Withings Pulse have taken per week. It gets updated multiple times per day, so you can alway see how you are doing. The Advocates Challenge is ranking everybody that has applied to participate. You can also create your own leaderboard with friends (Editor’s note: you can invite all your friends, even if they don’t have a Pulse activity tracker).
Sometimes other challenges appear, like the Run2Work Challenge. Here the goal was to take as many steps as possible when you run or walk to work in the morning. There is a nice ranking, an overview of some totals and the history of the previous week. Every monday the challenge starts again.
This is your personal leaderboard in the Health Mate app. Here you add your friends manually, at the moment there is not yet a convenient way to find friends via social networks. The big difference with the challenges is that not everybody is automatically in your leaderboard. If you know friends who have a Withings Pulse, just add them. (Editor’s note: if you friends don’t have one, no problem: they can use the basic step-tracking of their smartphone to enter the weekly contests). From then on you can see how you rank amongst friends. The leaderboards is updated multiple times a day.
Don’t you know any of your friends which are using the Withings Pulse? There is even a Facebook group to find other people tracking their steps with the Pulse. Just add yourself to the group and add some people to your leaderboard. Thanks for pointing this one out Bengt-Gorän! You’ll be amazed at how many steps some people take every week. Jerry, chief of the group, will give you a weekly update and creates some different kind of leaderboards of all people in the group.
How do leaderboards work?
And again I ask myself “How does this works?”. For me personally they work because you see that a few more steps is all you need to gain some places on the Leaderboard. If I don’t run for a day I will lose some places on the Leaderboard. By choosing to walk instead of cycling or taking the car I get some extra steps done. That way most of the days I will reach the 10.000 steps goal and add more steps to my leaderboard position.
Further reading on this topic
If you want to know more about using gamification (badges and leaderboards) for motivation, then I recommend you check out this video. Badges and leaderboards definitely work for me. Do they work for you too? Just try it out!