Video Games, Exercise, and Motivation by Andrew Gibson DPT

I’ll admit it; I’ve grown up in an era where video games are a form of playtime. My best friend and I loved them so much we even begged my parents to get a steering wheel with foot pedals so we could play our favorite computer racing game. Every Thanksgiving, I would play FIFA (a soccer game with teams and players from all around the world) for hours on end with my cousin. This often led to very late evenings and short-term hypoxia, because it’s hard to breathe when you are about to score the winning goal! Cell phones have brought about a more “modern” form of gaming, with “Candy Crush”. Even my parents were hooked on a puzzle game for a while. Video games bring us together and can provide endless amounts of fun.

You might be thinking… What does this have to do with Exercise?

Video games seem to have a trending theme: keep playing to get to that next level! People tend to want to know what level 5 is like compared to level 4 because the game keeps them engaged.  Exercise, however, can be boring. Especially during recent changes to social distancing and closures of local fitness centers. I sometimes feel like my level 1 exercise lasts too long, is exhausting, and seems to feel more depressing than uplifting. I still weigh the same and my clothes continued to feel a little snug. This got me wondering how I can combine the fun of video gamed with exercise.

The Step Game

Since the start of the pandemic, my new game has been “The Step Game.”  No, this is not a patented game you can find in the Apple or Android store (but an app can definitely help keep track). I have a Garmin watch that syncs to my phone. Purple bars show my steps count, but an orange one shows that I reached my goal number of steps for that day. My goal is 10,000 per day, which can be difficult to get without putting effort in. It has been fun in the last couple weeks to build on another orange bar. How many orange bars can I get? Each month is a different level of difficulty. My phone shows a small trophy on the month if I set a new activity record. That means I want another one next month. Boring level 1 soon becomes level 2, with me pushing myself to make this level better than the previous one. The reward makes the journey exciting and fulfilling.

How can I do this at home?

The easiest way is to print out or create your own calendar. Set a goal you would like to accomplish each day using exercise or physical activity. This could be going for a walk outside, a short exercise program you found on YouTube, or a free exercise app. Start with a reasonable goal early, and then build on this with each week or month. Make it a game that keeps you coming back for more! Focus on a reward that keeps your motivated, just like getting the next level in a video game. Soon, your level 1 will be level  50. You will be more energized and those clothes may get more comfy. If you have an ache or pain that is limiting your ability to progress further in the game, give us a call here at Strive! Health and Rehabilitation. We would love to meet you and get you back moving pain free!


Andrew Gibson DPT

Doctor of Physical Therapy