The Fun Theory: Treadmill race track, piano stairs, and more

New Web site creates a competition based on the notion that the easiest way to improve human behavior (i.e. exercise, recycle, etc.) is to make engaging in that behavior fun.

Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore is based in Portland, Oregon, and has written for Wired, The Christian Science Monitor, and public radio. Her semi-obscure hobbies include climbing, billiards, board games that take up a lot of space, and piano.
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
2 min read
"The Fun Theory" is based on the notion that the easiest way to improve human behavior is to make it fun. The Fun Theory

When I first started rock climbing two years ago, I wanted to tell everyone about it. It was the first time in my life I looked forward to going to the gym, and I still do, which is probably why I am in even better shape than when I was a varsity swimmer in high school, which was in many ways a hellish hobby that I mostly dreaded.

My experience is exactly what a new Web project, The Fun Theory, is exploring: if you find something that is fun to do, you're far more likely to do it, and to do it regularly:

This site is dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people's behavior for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it's change for the better.

Launched in October by four jurists in Sweden, The Fun Theory is a competition (deadline December 15, 2009) for the most ingeniously "fun" takes on otherwise boring but important tasks, such as exercising and recycling. The site currently boasts such top hits as the Connect Four Beer Crate, Treadmill Racing Track, and Pinball Exercise Machine at the bus stop. You get the idea.

But my personal favorite--and yes I'm biased as a pianist--is the piano stairway:

Maybe you could care less about a stairway that makes sounds, and yes this would be entirely unrealistic to install around the world, but the idea behind it is what matters: discover entertaining ways to do things that are good for you and your surroundings, and you will find yourself actually doing them.