Want to go for a Yog? Well, first it would help to know what the heck a “Yog” is. The new mobile app is redefining what it means to run, sprint, walk, or “jog” by turning any run into a social experience.

The Yog app lets users create or join digital “runs” with friends across the globe, setting the distance, date, time, and even suggested playlists. Other users can join the run up until the starting gun. The app then keeps track of how far each runner has traveled using their iPhone’s internal GPS. Those results are shown in real time in the app and through audio cues so participants can race to beat their friends — no matter where they are — or keep pace for a desired time.

Essentially, the app lets users run with anyone in the world who also has the app, turning what can be a solo workout into a communal effort (or competition). That’s a good thing for our social skills and our fitness. Research suggests some athletes can push harder through exercise when surrounded by teammatesRowers’ high: behavioural synchrony is correlated with elevated pain thresholds. Cohen, E.E.A., Ejsmond-Frey, R., Knight, N., et al. Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. Biology Letters 2010;23(6):106-108.. Other studies have found some individuals will try to perform better when they’re bein

g watched (something called the kohler motivation gain effect, or basically the drive not to look bad in front of fit partners)Aerobic exercise is promoted when individual performance affects the group: a test of the kohler motivation gain effect. Irwin, B.C., Scorniaenchi, J., Kerr, N.L. Kinesiology, Michigan State University, IM Sports-Circle, East Lansing, MI. Annals of Behavioral Medicine 2012;44(2):151-9..

That power hit founder Peter Pelberg when he ran with one beta tester, who lives in the Netherlands: “This guy was 3,000 miles away but I knew for a fact that he’s got shorts on, and his shoes on, and we’re about to go on a run together. I got chills. I’m getting chills right now. I was just like, ‘Holy sh*t.'”

Yog also understands that some people prefer to run solo.

But what if your friends don’t have Yog yet? Just clicking a run invitation will automatically open a link to the iTunes store where people can download the app for free. Runs are currently capped at 20 runners per route, but that number will likely increase with time.

The team has also built in some super secret failsafes to prevent cheating, like a mile/time threshold. Any one who runs a mile in less than three-and-a-half minutes is flagged. “Not only that, but we’ll have to figure out some kind of branding to let people know this person ran as fast as a car,” Pelberg says with a laugh. “If someone runs 3:30, we’re going to get them on the phone immediately.”

The app just launched today, and curious greatists can check out Yog’s website to download it for free.

Is running with friends more addictive than “Words with Friends”? Let us know what you think of Yog in the comments below or tweet Zack at @zsniderman.

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