Have a hard time sticking to health goals? Perhaps you’re better at playing games — and can play your way to better health. That’s the idea behind Health Month, a new game that lets you set month-long health goals and play — even compete — to achieve them.
Basically, Health Month lets you pick from about 50 goals, ranging from taking it easy on trans fats to practicing medication to putting down the crack pipe. Shape each of those broad goals to fit your specific needs, then start tracking your progress every day for a month, with the optional help of a daily reminder email. Stick to your goals and you’ll win “life points” and “fruits”; break your rules and you’ll lose points. And to further motivate yourself, you can join up with a team of people or put additional rewards or punishments in place.
The site’s in beta testing, but I signed up right away, mainly because Health Month tracks data on what sort of goals you’re better at achieving. For example, you may be really great at goals that require taking an action — like enjoying fruit for breakfast — but not so great at those that require refraining from action — like not nibbling on Pop Tarts for breakfast. Health Month automatically puts together graphs and charts to tell you what kind of goals work best for you — so you can pick better goals the next month.
I picked 3 goals for October: To drink no more than 21 cups of coffee a week, to exercise six times a week, and to not drink alcohol. Why these specific goals? They’re actually habits I’ve already picked up this year. I figured saying I’d do the things I’ve already been doing would lower my chances of failure!
This not-quite-cheating-but-kind-of-cowardly move on my part did not go unnoticed by Health Month, which quickly pointed out that the difficult level of my challenges was “Low” in very large letters. To drive home its point, Health Month put me in the “yellow” category, reserved for people who basically want to maintain the status quo without challenging themselves. Hmmm…
That’s okay — I can set tougher goals for November. I don’t quite get how the “life points” work yet — much less the “fruit” rewards, which apparently you can give to other players — but I’ll figure things out as I go along.
The game’s free if you pick three or fewer goals, or $5 a month if you want to set more goals and join teams. Who wants to play along with me?