Are you the kind of person that “has an app” for everything?  Then you need to check out the best health apps for keeping you motivated at your healthy best.

This is the fourth post in a five part series on the topic of how to stay healthy and keep good habits going all year.

Health and Gamification

We live in an amazing day and age with games and wearable devices that can help motivate, engage and prompt us to make better decisions. The concept of “gamification,” or applying video game-thinking and game dynamics in a non-game context in order to engage people and change their behavior has really evolved. Commercial video games have been popular for years and the gaming industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world – proof that their products are desirable and highly addictive.  Mike Tinney, a “gamer” in a previous life, has been studying aspects of social and behavioral engineering for online video games for years and now applying them to games that encourage people to adopt more healthy behavior. His company, Fitness Interactive Experience and his games: UtiliFIT and A Step Ahead: Zombies integrates techniques like competition and “progressive reinforcement,” where a player gets a challenge, they meet that challenge and then receive an immediate reward for their accomplishment (also referred to as the Nintendo effect). Tinney reports that his clients are seeing retained engagement as high as 90% from start to finish on their challenges.

Healthy Apps That Work

Here are the best health apps that build on the principles of gamification, intrinsic motivation, social influence and accountability:

  • Pact, funded by the founder of Guitar Hero, helps you make pacts with yourself to regularly exercise and eat healthily, and you are paid in real dollars to do so.
  • LifeTick is a goal-tracking app that asks you establish your core values, then follow the S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, time-specific) goal-setting method to create tasks or steps that are required to achieve your goal.
  • Habit List helps you track your “streaks” – how many times in a row you completed a habit, and will send you reminders to keep you on track.
  • Lift allows you to choose your goals and then select the type of coaching you require: advice, motivation, and/or prompting from the Lift community.
  • StickK, developed by Yale University economists, requires you to sign a commitment contract which binds you to a goal. It will cost you real money if you fail to reach it.

Want more ideas for how to stay healthy?

How to Motivate Yourself to Stay Healthy

Use Peer Pressure to Stay Healthy

Find an Accountability Partner to Stay Healthy

A Healthy Environment Can Nudge Behavior

Photograph of Leigh StringerLeigh Stringer is a workplace strategy expert and researcher.  She works for EYP, an architecture, engineering and building technology firm and is the author of The Healthy Workplace: How to Improve the Well-Being of Your Employees—and Boost Your Company’s Bottom Line.