Fitness rewards program raised activity levels, study suggests

A consortium of insurers offering fitness-linked plans have vowed to get 100 million people more active by 2025

Fitness rewards program raised activity levels, study suggests

Vitality, the South Africa-based company that facilitates fitness tracker-based rewards programs for insurers around the world, has announced the results of a large-scale behaviour change study in physical activity.

In the study titled Incentives and Physical Activity, researchers from Rand Europe performed statistical analysis on population data from more than 400,000 Vitality program members across the UK, the US, and South Africa. The data, which was collected from 2015 to 2018, included information on physical activity levels from participants in the Vitality Active Rewards with Apple Watch program, as well as those who were only in the Vitality Active Rewards program.

The study found that participants using the Vitality Active Rewards with Apple Watch program logged an average of 34% more activity days per month, compared to members who only participated in the Vitality Active Rewards program. This led to an additional 4.8 days of activity per month, which Vitality estimated would translate into two additional years of life.

At-risk participants — those with a high body mass index (BMI) — also showed greater improvements than others. Such individuals saw activity increases of 200% in the US, 160% in the UK, and 109% in South Africa. In terms of activity days per month, those increases equated to 1.8 for the US, 5.7 for the UK, and 4.5 for South Africa.

"This landmark study helps us understand how people can be incentivised to live healthier lives," said Adrian Gore, Discovery Chief Executive and founder of Vitality.

Building on this study, Vitality and its global network of insurers including John Hancock, Manulife, AIA, Ping An, and Sumitomo, have collectively committed to making 100 million people more physically active by 2025. The new commitment is in line with the World Health Organization’s Global Action Plan on Physical Activity, which aims to tackle the severe increase in lifestyle diseases that’s been partly caused by lack of exercise.


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