My New Healthy ‘Exercise’

So I wanted to write a post about this because I think that what i’m newly enjoying might seem like something for a different type of demographic than i’m a part of. And by writing about what I enjoy about it and the benefits it offers, it might make more women, mom’s etc. who are perhaps similar in personality to me, realise it is out there and may also work for them.

Anyway my current new favourite thing: Ingress.

To explain how I came to it. I was looking for a way to get more exercise in and in particular for it to be fun. I’ve always been someone that has struggled to find exercise i really enjoy which is of course key for something to be long term and sustainable. While i enjoy running, i get injuries so often that put me back and also now that I have a toddler and live in an area with fewer suitable pram running areas it isn’t really in of itself the perfect exercise for me right now. Plus often, when i’m particularly unfit or injured i don’t love running and it’s a struggle to get going. Walking by myself i tend to find too boring to do much of regularly unless i’m with someone else which isn’t an option very often, particularly now we live in an area without footpaths. I won’t join a gym as i’ve wasted far too many memberships in the past by not going enough.

So i was looking up phone apps that might make movement more fun. I knew of the Zombies run, however i HATE horror movies and zombie movies. So i really didn’t think that one would be right for me, plus it does cost a small amount which wouldn’t matter if i liked it but i doubt i would. So then I started googling what might be similar to zombies run in terms of gameified exercise but without zombies and came across Ingress.

So Ingress isn’t specifically an exercise app. From what i’ve learnt about it, it seems like it had something to do with Google and they created it to help them work out walking trails for Google Maps. But it is incredibly well designed to be quite addictive, extremely fun and very conducive to exercising. It can be done by walking, running, cycling and while a few portals could be got by driving it is designed so you won’t really get far into the game that way which is good so there really is the incentive to actually exercise.

I have a fitness tracker too so i can know exactly how much extra exercise it is giving me which i enjoy (i like stats) but of course that isn’t a requirement to play. All that is needed is a smart phone and your legs.

The game is a little like orienteering with the GPS on your phone. You have to find portals which are usually at statues or other culturally significant markers which you register with your phone. I won’t go into all the details but basically you join one of 2 teams with the main aim being to capture as much area as possible for your team. Even if you only have a small area with portals nearby where you live, as long as there are few out there you’ll be having to go back and forth between them and through that get your exercise!

Personally i found it so much fun i didn’t even notice it was exercise and I very much look forward to when i can do it again. Now there are only 2 portals within walking distance of my house as i’m in a very rural area, but i’m nearby a few bigger towns and also go to a small city 4 days a week or so. So basically i now just time my ‘exercise’ around when i’ll be in these bigger areas or drive the 10 mins to the closest town with a decent collection of portals for an hour or so of running/walking around. So after swimming or a study session i’ll load Finn up in the pram in a spot with quite a lot of portals and off we go. I enjoy it so much too that i’ll go even if it is lightly raining, something i’d never have done previously if i was just going out for a run. I’m definitely getting a tonne of exercise this way which for me is a combination of running or walking however i’m feeling at the time (which is what i need right now while i’m a little too unfit just to run for the hour or so i’m doing it and there are a lot of road crossings and stops needed anyway to play). There is a lot of stopping to record portals along the way too which might annoy someone that might just want to run for an hour without stopping, however if that is you, you probably don’t need Ingress to motivate you to exercise.

Levelling up in the game is also part of the fun, and seems to be the right about of challenge to fun. After 6 days of playing i’m now level 5 which now allows me to do a lot more in the game which is nice. If you do choose to get involved i recommend going some basic strategies of play especially ones that list what is most sensible to focus on at the early levels otherwise you are likely to waste time and get frustrated.

So basically that’s it. It’s an exercise that i’m enjoying for it’s own sake. it is is very compatible to do with a pram. It’s completely free and will get you seeing more of some interesting places around you. Also it seems like something that you can do to meet people too as there is a real team work aspect. That being said you don’t necessarily have to meet anyone if you don’t want to. I occasionally just message my team mates through the app but never have met in person and probably won’t.  I can see that it would be really fun to do travelling as well. Don’t let it’s superficial ‘nerdy-ness’ put you off.

Oh and another one to perhaps look into if you like this sort of thing is Geocaching. I’ll probably do a bit of that later although there are less options for me where I live than Ingress.

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