Gamify my walks!
July 6, 2015 9:06 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to get back into walking as a key form of exercise, but this time around my usual podcasts and audiobooks aren't cutting it. What do I need to help easily track how much walking I'm doing, and to motivate me to boost that amount?

In the past I've been really happy with the health results I've achieved through frequent walking, but this year I've just been kind of bored while out and about, even with compelling things to listen to and a reasonable number of destinations to head for. I've tried the Walk to Rivendell a few times, and while I've enjoyed that, it gets to be a pain to have to manually enter my distance every time I take a walk - an app-based version that tracked my mileage for me and maybe sprinkled in a few LOTR-based story points would be awesome. I also know about Zombies, Run, but a) I hate running and b) zombies freak me out - so that doesn't really seem like it's for me. Apparently the same company also has a walk-focused app, but the reviews seem fair to middling - does anybody have personal experience with this? I'm also curious about the game that's apparently built into this Striiv pedometer - again, does anybody have experience with this, and is it fun?

I suppose my ideal solution would have the following:
1. Easy way to log distance walked - I would LOVE something that automatically tracked this for me.
2. Compelling theme - I like fantasy and sci-fi stuff, but really anything with a good story would probably work ... eh, so long as it wasn't zombie-related.
3. No multi-player requirement - I'm just not that eager to see how my walking compares to other people in my life. I suppose a multi-player where you could join up with other randos playing would be okay, but I don't particularly want to sign up to play with my own actual friends and family.

Really, I just want something to help wave a carrot in front of me while I try to get back up to my 5+ miles/day walking habit. Is there anything out there that would fit the bill?
posted by DingoMutt to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe Ingress?
posted by General Malaise at 9:15 AM on July 6, 2015 [6 favorites]

Run an Empire is in iOS beta for backers. Sounds really interesting.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:26 AM on July 6, 2015

I've used both MapMyRun/MapMyWalk in the past. They lack stories (boo), but work really well at tracking distance, pace, etc. I also like the spoken intervals feature (which comes with the premium subscription.) They also send emails when you have or haven't been out lately.

I also tried Zombies, Run! and despite it being a sunny Sunday at noon, it terrified me. Do not recommend.

I use the Google Fit app that comes automatically with my phone as a broad measure of my activity, but I'm not sure it's precise enough for your needs.
posted by purpleclover at 9:31 AM on July 6, 2015

Maybe try runtastic? They have a story mode.
posted by pyro979 at 9:34 AM on July 6, 2015

Response by poster: I also tried Zombies, Run! and despite it being a sunny Sunday at noon, it terrified me. Do not recommend.

Yeah, zombies freak me out to an unreasonable degree and I hate the idea of running from them (I do that in nightmares quite enough as it is!) Given how popular that app is I feel a little like Indiana Jones - "WHY did it have to be zombies?!?"

One thing I forgot to mention in my initial question is that my phone is an Android, so anything that's iOS-only wouldn't do it for me, unfortunately (I hope that Run an Empire comes out with an Android beta - it does indeed sound interesting!). At any rate, thanks for the ideas, everyone - please keep them coming!
posted by DingoMutt at 9:36 AM on July 6, 2015

Best answer: Apparently the same company also has a walk-focused app, but the reviews seem fair to middling - does anybody have personal experience with this?

I looooooved The Walk. Loved. I was sad when I finished the last episode and have been thinking about replaying it. (Naomi Alderman and Adrian Hon are MeFi's Own [TM], too!)
posted by dorque at 9:43 AM on July 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I really liked The Walk and came in to recommend it. It's a little annoying because you do have to fidget with your phone a bit to collect everything, but it's still pretty great.
posted by naturalog at 9:46 AM on July 6, 2015

Also, Ingress is great and I recommend it for many reasons, but its walk-tracking is... kind of bad? On iOS, anyway, it only tracks your distance while the app is foregrounded and the screen is on, which is hell on battery. It's fine because it's not really the point of Ingress, and it's definitely gotten me to do a lot of walking, but as a tracker specifically, it's not that helpful. You could maybe double up Ingress for the fun value with a more effective app like Runkeeper (not just for running) or MapMyWalk for the logging.
posted by dorque at 9:47 AM on July 6, 2015

I don't know anything about this app other than what it says on the website and I can't try it out because I'm not an iPhone user, but Teemo has some interactive challenges (that it doesn't look like you have to do with a team) where you do exercises to get you towards a certain point. Based on one of the screenshots I can see, it looks like some of them might be primarily walking-focused.
posted by naturalog at 9:56 AM on July 6, 2015

It turns out that story-based gamification of walking is just not my thing, but I thought "The Walk" from the Zombies people was nicely done, and it really sounds like exactly what you're looking for.
posted by desuetude at 10:46 AM on July 6, 2015

I am currently using The Walk and I also love it. You only really have to fiddle with the screen while you're walking if you care about collecting all the items to get a badge, but that is an optional part of the game. When I head out I have The Walk running in the background and listen to podcasts for a while and when I've finished a whole chapter in The Walk I go back and listen to all the unlocked audio clips at once. It's definitely been a motivating factor.

I'm also a casual player of Ingress and have a few regular routes that I travel just to check up on some portals. It will often keep me out walking longer than I would otherwise.
posted by Miss Matheson at 11:07 AM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding General Malaise. I went from walking 0 km per day to any average of 1.8 km per day playing Ingress.
posted by Rob Rockets at 11:28 AM on July 6, 2015

As for the "game" on Striiv, I assume you mean Myland. It's not really a game, and there's no story. You just get to spend points you earn from steps and challenges to buy decorations for your island.
posted by ktkt at 12:17 PM on July 6, 2015

I'm also currently using The Walk and I really enjoy it. YMMV depending on whether the issue with Zombies, Run! was specifically the zombies - the plotline of The Walk is still heavy on being followed by (non-zombie) bad guys. You can listen to the audio clips whenever you want after you unlock them, though - it's not autoplay - so it's less unsettling than having zombies suddenly in your ear.
posted by pemberkins at 12:48 PM on July 6, 2015

If you don't mind a pedometer and a monthly subscription, try Fitbug. Admittedly I'm not sure what it is like these days as I was using it 6 or so years ago but it was pretty good at setting a new walk goal at the end of each week and reporting back how well you are achieving against it.
posted by Wysawyg at 12:50 PM on July 6, 2015

Best answer: Thirding Ingress. It's not a fitness app, but it will give you a reason to get out and move-- more of a reason if you're in a city, though, since the portals you visit usually live at the location of public artworks, viewpoints, museums, etc.

Get yourself an external battery, though. You may also want to download some of the companion apps like the map utilities for watching the global map (well, for your area), and a time app, since you'll have cooldowns to deal with here and there.

Ingress is a team-based MP game, but you're not competing on distance; you're in one of two factions trying to control locations (portals) by defending and attacking, as well as capturing areas by linking portals.

I played for a while-- it's only as social as you want it to be-- MP chat if you like, Cross-faction beer night (at least in my town) if you really like, or just do your own thing.
posted by Sunburnt at 4:29 PM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions, everyone! I tried out the free version of Runtastic, but the step counter didn't seem to be working (I may take long strides, but I'm pretty sure I do more than 72 steps in a 2-mile walk), so I've gone ahead and downloaded The Walk - how could I pass up something made by MeFi's Own? Today will be the first day I try it out, but I'm excited based on all the positive comments here. I've also favorited Sunburnt's answer as the first thing that's given me a decent idea of what Ingress is all about - looking at their website I wasn't entirely clear. If The Walk doesn't pan out, I'll try that next.

Either way, I'm looking forward to getting my walk on once more - thanks again for the help!
posted by DingoMutt at 7:55 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Co-creator of Zombies, Run! and The Walk here - it's always lovely to see so many fans on Metafilter!

I'll let you into a not-so-secret fact here - neither of the co-creators of Zombies, Run! (Naomi Alderman and myself) are huge zombie fans or horror fans. Obviously we're well-versed with the genres but they are not something that we seeked to emulate in the game; personally, I really don't like horror movies or games. Instead, I think we made more of an action or thriller game rather than anything else.

Of course I can't promise that it's devoid of scariness, so clearly YMMV.

Given all of this, the path is clear: try The Walk :)
posted by adrianhon at 2:15 PM on July 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

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