Using gamification and social incentives to increase physical activity and related social cognition among undergraduate students in Shanghai, China


Gamification and social incentives are promising strategies to increase the effectiveness of web-based physical activity (PA) interventions by improving engagement. In this study, we designed a PA intervention integrating gamification and social incentives based on the most popular social networking service in China, WeChat. A controlled trial involving 52 Chinese undergraduate students was implemented to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention. Subjects in the intervention group received a 7-week intervention. PA behavior and related social cognitive variables according to the theory of planned behavior were measured at the baseline and after the intervention. Daily physical activity duration was measured during the intervention. The results showed that PA-related subjective norms, perceived behavior control, and intention, as well as self-reported vigorous physical activity and moderate physical activity in the intervention group, were increased after the intervention, compared with the control group (p <0.05). During the intervention, perceived daily physical activity duration in the intervention group was on the rise, while it declined in the control group (p <0.001). The findings indicate that WeChat-based intervention integrating gamification and social incentives could effectively increase subjectively measured PA and related social cognition among Chinese undergraduate students and that it is a promising way to ameliorate the problem of insufficient PA among youths. View Full-Text.

Publication Title

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health