There is a new trend taking over the fitness world that is uniting gamers in a way no one saw coming.  What was once thought to be an unhealthy, solitaire hobby is now changing how people view and interact with their health.  Born out of a passion for gamification – achieving a goal for a reward in a fun manner – games have a lot to offer men’s health where traditional methods have failed to lower high blood pressure.

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“The best way to help consumer’s live healthier lives is to empower them with personally meaningful data, content, and rewards that make healthier choices second nature,” Siddiqui said in a press release and it is true.  In this case, the meaningful data is being extracted and communicated using gaming methods and handheld devices that encourage positive and consistent participation.

Game Your Way to Low Blood Pressure

Devices have been used in medicine for as long as medicine has existed, but in the treatment of high blood pressure (HBP), they are taking on a new character.  Where devices were previously seen as tools, to be used in a specific manner to gather medical information, they lacked one incentive that is a powerful trigger for patients, fun.  No one enjoys monitoring his or her health, until now that is.

Growing in sophistication with each new version, some activity trackers now count calories, measure blood pressure rates, and monitor REM sleep time.  In the future, analysts predict they will collect even more extensive biological data.  According to VentureBeat, 20 million fitness trackers were in use during 2014, with economists predicting 60 million by 2018.

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Gamification is lending a dash of fun to an otherwise stressful arena.  The introduction of entertaining patients is proving to be powerful, with patients reporting significant drops in their blood pressure when using games rather than sterile medical advice.  From wristbands that track your workouts to Apps that can track your food, workout, sleeping patterns and more, users are snapping up fitness games more than any other market.

Rewarding Fitness Participation

One significant area of research has been on managing high blood pressure with the use of gamification methods such as wearable devices and Apps.  The results show that men respond significantly to competitive and stimulating gamed-based methods.  This is a breakthrough for doctors, who until now, have struggled to maintain relationships with their male patients.

Men are likely to make excuses and not visit their doctor but the introduction of games has shown they are willing to volunteer information.  With long-term health conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, this is especially troubling as continued management is necessary for a positive outcome.  So the change of attitude could see a significant change in the livelihoods of future gamers.

Siddiqui and his co-researcher analyzed de-identified historic data collected from patients using higi’s nationwide kiosk network between September 2012 and May 2015.  The study included data from 153,092 patients, all with high blood pressure, and 56 percent of whom were men.  Crunching the numbers, the researchers discovered nearly half of these patients decreased their systolic blood pressure during the study period.  Importantly, among the patients with more than 20 “reward achievements,” about 85 percent lowered their blood pressure to become non-hypertensive.

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The research found that the reward of fulfilling a task, as masked by a game, meant that men were much more likely to participate, and continue participating when rewarded.  This makes sense, as by nature, we are driven to be rewarded for any meaningful action.  When we are rewarded, our bodies respond with an intense reaction that makes us want to do that action again.

Now that we are putting this powerful reaction to good use, could it be that men’s health is truly addictive and rewarding? Gamers say yes!

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