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Free app rewards you for exercising

New iPhone app Nexercise offers you the chance to win free stuff for as little as 15 minutes of any physical activity. Is this the type of incentive we need for healthier habits?

Get free stuff for healthy behaviors?

Nexercise is a free iPhone app that tracks your physical activities and rewards you with free and discounted merchandise.

"Technology makes us sedentary, and leads to us making bad, unhealthy choices," says cofounder Benjamin Young, who launched the app earlier this year. "So I thought, 'Is there any way that technology could help us make incrementally better choices?'"

That led him to "game-ify the exercise experience and reward people for it."

Users accumulate points based on the length of their workouts and other such behaviors that reinforce frequent exercise habits. Run, weightlift, fence, play polo, etc.

"We're trying to create a lifestyle – not a quick fix," he says. "We don't focus on how many miles you ran or how many pounds you've lifted. You get points in the game for healthy behaviors."

For extra credit, exercise with a friend or on a rainy day. "A lot of it is driven by research studies,” Young says. “If you exercise with someone, you're more likely to continue to exercise."

Besides virtual medals, the prizes aren’t carrots-on-a stick, at least not directly. (Young worries that this would lead to rampant cheating.) It’s more of a lottery system: users with more points have greater chances of winning prizes, and those at higher levels have access to more valuable rewards.

At the very least, there’s a 25% chance of wining a prize. These range from coupons for energy bars to $250 gift cards.

Not incentive enough? Recent integration earlier this month with Kiip, a San Francisco-based advertising startup, provides access to prizes from retailers such as makeup company Sephora and vitamin and supplements maker GNC.

The app uses the motion of the iPhone to determine that the physical activity was actually completed. According to Young, all it takes is 15 minutes of any physical activity to qualify to win a reward.

Similar apps include:

Image: Nexercise

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com