Tech and fitness: Tackling immunity, health and new frontiers – Daily Maverick

Posted: December 16, 2020 at 12:54 am


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Using technology as a means of behavioural change has long been embraced at Discovery Vitality. From GPS tracking to heart rate monitoring, AI analytics and more, technology has the power to transform lives when plugged in to a wellness model. This is why Vitality has partnered with STRAVA, one of the worlds leading social networks for fitness, writes Dr Mosima Mabunda, Head of Wellness at Vitality.

It was a worldwide phenomenon, but recent Vitality data confirmed that South African lifestyle behaviours were negatively impacted by lockdown. In terms of physical activity, using device workout and points data, we saw a 48% decrease in physical activity levels during lockdown level 5 compared to pre-lockdown.

But I was hopeful after noting that as lockdown levels eased and physical activity options increased, we have seen people resume physical activity. There was a 10% increase in physical activity with relaxed restrictions across the Vitality member base.

Similarly, of the first competitive cycling events for the year saw Team Vitality participate in the Double Century recently. The early morning start in the Karoo mountain town of Swellendam looked like this: eight Team Vitality riders, cycling legend Nic White and I, got onto our bikes, synced our devices with the STRAVA app and off we went for 202km.

We kept updated on our progress over the route, a gentle buzz marking off the milestones and pushing us on. After several hours, we made it to finish line, and celebrated being one of the 36 teams out of 143 who completed the race.

In a year that has seen us quite separate but together in spirit, the race made me reflect on what distinguished 2020 from wartime. It was our social connections that continued despite physical distancing, made possible by technology, of course. Invisible in ways, but so essential that it touches all aspects of human life today.

How Vitality makes tech work toward more physical activity

Using technology as a means of behavioural change is one of the key global trends which we have embraced.

Using the latest technology be it GPS tracking or heart rate monitoring, AI analytics and more we are known to be the innovators in the tech and wellbeing space. Tech interconnects our 20 million members worldwide, with the broad aim of making people healthier and enhancing and protecting their lives.

This is part of the reason Vitality has partnered with Strava, one of the richest data sources of tracking physical activity in the world. Strava the Swedish word for strive is an advanced mobile app and social network for athletes, made by athletes. To date, Strava has billions of activities uploaded from 195 countries and seen an average of 1 million athletes join every 30 days.

Strava turns members smartphone device into a running and cycling computer, so they can track and analyse every aspect of their physical activity. The platform also allows members to connect with friends across the globe. It is also home to the worlds largest route and trail resources for runners and cyclists, allowing members to explore new routes and compete with a global community.

When we plug that into Vitalitys Active Rewards platform, magic happens. Using nudge theory, which tells us that people are motivated to make good choices (in this case, move more) when they are rewarded, with Strava, we are taking our behavioural change programme to the next level.

By providing options for how members track exercise, and giving people human connection through tech, we can encourage and reward activity multiples more.

The science behind the fitness connection

We know that exercise may be more important than medicine when it comes to preventing and sustaining good health, particularly in a world that is in the midst of a pandemic. Simply put, fitness can boost your chances of recovering from COVID-19, and from most illnesses linked to physical inactivity.

Multiple studies have linked consistent, appropriate, life-long physical activity to a significantly decreased risk of morbidity and mortality. The positive impact of moderate and high levels of physical activity is undisputed.

World Health Organization statistics tell us that up to 5 million deaths a year could be averted if the global population was more active. At a time when many people are homebound due to COVID-19, new WHO Guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour emphasise that everyone, of all ages and abilities, can be physically active and that every type of movement counts. Yet, the data also shows that one in four adults, and four out of five adolescents, do not get enough physical activity. Globally this is estimated to cost US$54 billion in direct health care and another US$14 billion to lost productivity, according to the WHO.

Dr Fiona Bull, Head of the Physical Activity Unit says that more and more research shows how important being active is for our hearts, bodies and minds, and how the favourable outcomes benefit everyone, of all ages and abilities.

Dr Ruediger Krech, Director of Health Promotion at the WHO adds that Physical activity of any type, and any duration can improve health and wellbeing, but more is always better and if you must spend a lot of time sitting still, whether at work or school, you should do more physical activity to counter the harmful effects of sedentary behaviour.

As Vitality, we have committed to making 100million people 20% more active by 2025 with our network of insurers around the world.We can do this one activity point at a time.

Discovery Chief Executive and Vitality founder, Adrian Gore shared this as the reasoning: For more than 20 years, Vitality has taken a shared-value approach to health improvement by creating interventions that change peoples behaviour for the better. Thats why we have committed to helping even more people become active and we are encouraged by the support of the World Health Organization as this aligns with their Global Action Plan on Physical Activity. We believe the impact will be substantial and far-reaching. DM

This article was written by Dr Mosima Mabunda, Head of Wellness at Vitality

You can join the Team Vitality community on Strava at no cost to connect with other Vitality members, share adventures and get recognised and rewarded for various achievements. Look out for further details towards the end of this year around how you can stand a chance to win prizes every quarter such as running shoes, running kit and fitness devices.

Team Vitality Club is your ultimate running and cycling club experience, at the same membership rate as in 2020, but with more perks and benefits.

When you join theTeam Vitality Club, you will get even more:

As a Team Vitality Club member, you save 50% on Strava membership, allowing you to:

Whats more, if you sign up for Team Vitality running or cycling for 2021 now, you wont pay for the rest of 2020. And, because 2020 was such a challenging year, there will be no membership fee increases for 2021.

Join the Team Vitality Running Club for R399 and Team Vitality Cycling Club for R950. Read more aboutTeam Vitality membership fees, terms and conditions.

Keep an eye on ourFacebook,TwitterandInstagrampages for more updates and information.

Get active. Get rewarded with Team Vitality and Strava.

Vitality (Pty) Ltd Registration Number 1999/007736/07. Limits, terms and conditions apply.

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Tech and fitness: Tackling immunity, health and new frontiers - Daily Maverick

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December 16th, 2020 at 12:54 am

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