Promoting Daily Physical Activity by Means of Mobile Gaming: A Review of the State of the Art

Monique Tabak, Marit van Weering, H.W. van Dijk, Miriam Marie Rosé Vollenbroek-Hutten

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    34 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives: To review mobile games and gaming applications that claim to improve physical activity behavior in daily life. Search Methods: We searched PubMed, Web of Science, and the ACM Digital Library and performed a manual search of relevant journals and reference lists. Studies that reported on a mobile game that requires players to perform physical activity in daily life and where the game has specific goals, rules, and feedback mechanisms were included. This excludes non-mobile exergames. Theoretical foundations, game characteristics, and evaluation methodologies were assessed. Results: In total, 797 articles were identified through the search, of which 11 articles were included. The reviewed studies show that there is limited theoretical foundation for the game development, and most studies used goal setting as a motivation strategy to engage people in playing the game. There was a large variety in game characteristics found, although the majority of the studies used metaphors or avatars to visualize activity, whereas feedback was mostly provided in relation to the goal. Rewards and competition were the most commonly incorporated game elements. The evaluations were focused on feasibility, and clinical evidence is lacking with only two randomized controlled studies found. Conclusions: This review provides a first overview of mobile gaming applications to promote daily life physical activity and shows this as a new research area with demonstration of its acceptability and feasibility among the users. Clinical effectiveness and the added value of gaming in changing daily activity behavior have by far not yet been established.
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)460-469
    Number of pages10
    JournalGames for health
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 23 Sep 2015


    • EWI-26300
    • Mobile
    • Gamification
    • IR-97827
    • Physical Activity
    • METIS-312719
    • Gaming

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