Published On: Mon, Jun 23rd, 2014 at 10:10am

Commonwealth Games app launched to boost fitness levels

media_266160_enWith just a month to go until the opening ceremony of the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, smartphone owners are being given the opportunity to boost their fitness and learn more about the host city.

An award-winning app, officially launched today by the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde with support from Commonwealth Games competitors, allows users to compete with others around the world to increase their physical activity and test their knowledge of Glasgow before, during and after the Games.

The MyCity: Glasgow app, developed by Glasgow and Strathclyde researchers, uses smartphones’ built-in accelerometers to track how much players walk each day. The app sets daily activity goals for each player based on their activity over the previous few days. The target increases each time players achieve their goals, steadily increasing their levels of activity.

Each time an activity goal is achieved, a reward is unlocked with the appearance of one of 42 of Glasgow’s landmark buildings on a map of the city. Players can find out more about Glasgow through fun ‘Fact or Fiction’ quizzes, and use their phone’s GPS function to follow virtual ‘treasure trails’ across the city.

Users can compare their performance to others’ using the MyCity Activity and Quizzes Leaderboards. They can also share their progress, and selfies of them playing the game, straight from the app to Facebook.

Development of the app was led by Dr Cindy Gray, of the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing, and Dr Marilyn McGee-Lennon, of the University of Strathclyde’s Department of Computer and Information Sciences.

Dr Gray said: “We’ve worked hard to make MyCity Glasgow a fun way for people to engage with the spirit of the Commonwealth Games by being more active, as well as finding out more about the host city. The app is focused on walking because it’s a low-impact form of activity that most people can participate in.

“MyCity: Glasgow allows people in Glasgow to gain a new perspective on the city by challenging them to visit landmarks, including the Games venues, for themselves. However, it’s also designed so that people can use it to learn about the city from anywhere around the world. All people need to benefit from the app is a mobile device and a willingness to be more active.”

Dr McGee-Lennon added: “When users download the app, they’ll be asked to agree for it to share with us anonymised data about their activity levels. The data will be an invaluable resource for future research into how effective apps can be at promoting behaviour change, which will be of real use for similar public health projects in the future, and will also contribute to the legacy of Glasgow 2014 for the city.”

Athletes from Team Scotland who will be competing in the Commonwealth Games have lent their support to MyCity: Glasgow.

Table tennis player and University of Glasgow physiology and sports science student Lynda Flaws, from Shetland said: “Walking more regularly isn’t a huge commitment but it can make a big difference to people’s health. I’m glad to be backing MyCity: Glasgow, which is a great way to make walking fun.”

800m freestyle swimmer Camilla Hattersley, from Perth, is currently studying aeronautical engineering at the University of Glasgow. She said: “I’m pleased to be involved with MyCity: Glasgow and I hope it’s a big success. It’s great that universities from the host city have made the effort to help educate people around the world about Glasgow and get them active too.

4 x 400m relay runner Kris Robertson, from Bishopbriggs, said: “The Commonwealth Games is brilliant for Glasgow, and the app provides a fantastic opportunity for people to explore the city and get fitter at the same time.”

Badminton player and Strathclyde University student Patrick MacHugh, from Kinross, said: “I hope the MyCity: Glasgow app encourages people from across the country to realise they can be more active more easily than they might think.”

The app has achieved acclaim even before its official launch. In April, it won the gold medal in the ‘Creative & Cultural – Higher Education Institutions’ category at the Game Changer Awards. The awards, organised by Universities Scotland and Colleges Scotland, recognised the commitment of Scotland’s universities and colleges to delivering a lasting legacy from the Games. The app was also showcased at the National Telecare and Telehealth Innovation Conference in Perth on 18th June.

The app is available for free download from the Google Play store from June 23 and shortly afterwards from the Apple app store. To find it, simply search for ‘MyCity: Glasgow’.

Development of the app was supported by funding from the University of Glasgow.

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