The "$in TIME" Gamification Project: Using a Mobile App to Improve Cardiorespiratory Fitness Levels of College Students

Games Health J. 2020 Feb;9(1):37-44. doi: 10.1089/g4h.2019.0001. Epub 2019 Sep 23.


Objective: To examine the effects of a gamification teaching program, including the use of a game-based mobile app on the cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) levels of college students. Materials and Methods: This study included a total of 117 college students (20.1 ± 2.9 years). They belonged to two different class groups, one formed the intervention group (IG, n = 58) and another one the control group (CG, n = 59). IG college students followed a 16-week gamification teaching program focused on encouraging physical activity (PA) through a game-based mobile app. The program was named "$in TIME" and set in the "In Time" science fiction movie. Each student belonging to the IG had a countdown on their mobile app so they had to perform learning and PA challenges to gain time. Thus, they had to run or cycle 3 to 5 days per week to gain time of life. The CG followed a traditional teaching methodology instead. CRF was assessed preintervention and postintervention using the 20-meter shuttle run test (20mSRT). Results: The stages completed in 20mSRT and the estimated maximal oxygen consumption at postintervention were significantly different between groups (P < 0.001, d ≤ 0.7), with a mean difference of 1.2 stages and 3.69 mL/(kg·min), respectively. Analysis within group showed a significant pre-post improvement only in the IG of 1.4 stages (P < 0.001). Conclusion: A gamification program, including the use of a game-based mobile app in a university setting, had a significant effect on the CRF in college students, in comparison with a CG that follows a traditional teaching methodology.

Keywords: Aerobic fitness; Health; Innovation; University; Young adults.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mobile Applications / standards
  • Mobile Applications / statistics & numerical data
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Fitness / psychology*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Universities / organization & administration
  • Universities / statistics & numerical data
  • Video Games / psychology
  • Video Games / standards*
  • Video Games / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult