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Open AccessArticle

Using Gamification and Social Incentives to Increase Physical Activity and Related Social Cognition among Undergraduate Students in Shanghai, China

1
School of Public Health, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200025, China
2
School of Public Health, and Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
3
Child Health Advocacy Institute, Shanghai Children’s Medical Center, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200127, China
4
Scarsdale High School, Scarsdale, NY 10583, USA
5
College of Business, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contribute equally to this work.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(5), 858; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16050858
Received: 17 January 2019 / Revised: 2 March 2019 / Accepted: 4 March 2019 / Published: 8 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Health Behavior, Chronic Disease and Health Promotion)
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
Keywords: physical activity; gamification; social incentives; social networking service; WeChat; undergraduate students physical activity; gamification; social incentives; social networking service; WeChat; undergraduate students
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Mo, D.; Xiang, M.; Luo, M.; Dong, Y.; Fang, Y.; Zhang, S.; Zhang, Z.; Liang, H. Using Gamification and Social Incentives to Increase Physical Activity and Related Social Cognition among Undergraduate Students in Shanghai, China. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 858.

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