Open Access Study protocol

Gamified physical activation of young men – a Multidisciplinary Population-Based Randomized Controlled Trial (MOPO study)

Riikka Ahola1, Riitta Pyky349, Timo Jämsä1, Matti Mäntysaari23, Heli Koskimäki5, Tiina M Ikäheimo36, Maija-Leena Huotari7, Juha Röning5, Hannu I Heikkinen8 and Raija Korpelainen1349*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical Technology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland

2 Aeromedical Centre and Diving Medical Centre, Centre for Military Medicine, Finnish Defence Forces, Helsinki, Finland

3 Institute of Health Sciences, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland

4 Department of Sports and Exercise Medicine, Oulu Deaconess Institute, Oulu, Finland

5 Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland

6 Center for Environmental and Respiratory Health Research, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland

7 Faculty of Humanities, Information Studies, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland

8 Faculty of Humanities, Cultural Anthropology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland

9 University Hospital, Oulu, Finland

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:32  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-32

Published: 14 January 2013



Inactive and unhealthy lifestyles are common among adolescent men. The planned intervention examines the effectiveness of an interactive, gamified activation method, based on tailored health information, peer networks and participation, on physical activity, health and wellbeing in young men. We hypothesize that following the intervention the physical activation group will have an improved physical activity, as well as self-determined and measured health compared with the controls.


Conscription-aged men (18 years) attending compulsory annual call-ups for military service in the city of Oulu in Finland (n = 1500) will be randomized to a 6-months intervention (n = 640) or a control group (n = 640) during the fall 2013. A questionnaire on health, health behaviour, diet and wellbeing is administered in the beginning and end of the intervention. In addition, anthropometric measures (height, weight and waist circumference), body composition, grip strength, heart rate variability and aerobic fitness will be measured. The activation group utilizes an online gamified activation method in combination with communal youth services, objective physical activity measurement, social networking, tailored health information and exercise programs according to baseline activity level and the readiness of changes of each individual. Daily physical activity of the participants is monitored in both the activation and control groups. The activation service rewards improvements in physical activity or reductions in sedentary behaviour. The performance and completion of the military service of the participants will also be followed.


The study will provide new information of physical activity, health and health behaviour of young men. Furthermore, a novel model including methods for increasing physical activity among young people is developed and its effects tested through an intervention. This unique gamified service for activating young men can provide a translational model for community use. It can also be utilized as such or tailored to other selected populations or age groups.

Trial registration Identifier: NCT01376986

Internet; Social network; Transtheoretical model; Physical activity; Obesity; Sedentary behavior; Tailoring; Effectiveness; Behavior change; Gamification