Where Gaming Meets Health

"You've got to make it fun."

That's what preventative medicine professor Timothy Church said about tracking your fitness in a recent USA Today article. The Louisiana State University researcher made this declaration while defending the value that fitness trackers have in the marketplace.

The fun is lacking, and therefore, so are the results. It's shown with all of the top wearable fitness trackers. It's not shown, however, with the CARROT Wellness app.

So where was this theory proven that combining fitness and fun can be successful? Pokemon Go. It was an app that asked its users to get out of the house and be active in order to compete, and the results were outstanding. That is, for about six weeks. But how can this wellness effort be sustained?

"We've seen a disconnect," said Michael Antaran, CEO of CARROT Wellness. "The data has been telling us that the solutions out there just don't work.

"Before we developed CARROT, we were primarily a gaming company. We were contributing to the sedentary lifestyles out there, and we decided we wanted to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. So we took our gaming mentality and ‘gamified’ health and wellness."

CARROT is a wellness program that, frankly, doesn’t seem like a wellness program. People compete as individuals and as teams. They challenge others, and they challenge themselves. Games are intertwined with other games and, almost as if by accident, users find themselves creating a new healthy habit of movement.

CARROT’s ‘gamified’ approach is different than anything in the marketplace.

"We created currencies that can only be earned by walking and meeting personalized activity goals," continued Antaran. "Meet your goal and earn a coin. Take one step and earn a point. Earn a certain amount, and you can cash them in for contest entries, prizes and incentives."

According to USA Today, there are three main criteria on which to focus for long-term wellness: understanding your current activity, setting achievable personal goals, and receiving support from friends and family. Maybe it's just coincidence, but while large fitness tracking companies scramble to incorporate this recipe for success into their devices, CARROT Wellness already offers it.

First, while tapping into your phone's health data, CARROT automatically generates an individualized goal for you based on your personal activity history and updates each day. CARROT meets you where you are and leads you, slowly and incrementally, to create a new “normal” for activity.

The fact that five-out-of-six CARROT Wellness users begin with a daily goal of less than 4,500 steps demonstrates the program’s ability to appeal to those who would not typically participate in fitness initiatives. CARROT, with its roots in mobile gamification, is effective because it works for EVERYONE.

The larger pool of participants leads to greater social support and makes the program more fun for everyone. It becomes an organization's favorite "water cooler" topic. Participants like that they can compete with and against friends. The app even incentivizes users to share CARROT with their co-workers, adding to the viral nature of the program.

Given that 85% of CARROT Wellness participants open the app at least once a day – many of them opening the app four or five times daily – the program boasts engagement levels that traditional programs can only envy.

Perhaps there’s something to this ‘gamification’ stuff.

"Playing games on mobile devices is fun," said Antaran. "We figured getting healthy should be, too."