If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we should never take our health for granted. And it’s been a long-held belief at Vitality that even small improvements in diet and exercise can have positive effects on one’s health and wellness. To ensure our programs incorporate the latest evidence-based guidelines, we regularly conduct studies with respected organizations and it’s gratifying when other researchers present findings that reinforce the value of a healthy lifestyle and physical activity.
A new study by researchers at that University of Oxford found that physical activity may be even more important for the prevention of cardiovascular disease than previously thought, especially when it comes to preventing heart attacks and strokes. The research also indicated that the higher level of one’s physical activity, the greater the benefit.
This study strengthens research we conducted with RAND that showed that exercise benefits ALL individuals, ranging from those who are least active and at highest risk to those who are active at the highest levels (moderate-intensity or vigorous-intensity).
While much of this sounds like common sense, it comes at a troubling time for our world when so many must limit activities outside of their homes due to the pandemic. In fact, a recent study published in Obesity, found big changes in people’s health behaviors during the pandemic, including less physical activity, more unhealthy eating and higher anxiety and poor-quality sleep.
So, if we know that being physically active can improve health, why is it such a difficult proposition to get people moving? How do we drive sustained behavior changes to impact health and wellness, especially for people at risk? This is the motivation for Vitality where we are constantly working to connect the right science, the right incentives and the right technology in a dynamic way that genuinely creates behavior change for our members.
One of the ways in which we’ve accomplished this is by incentivizing physical activity through programs such as Vitality Active Rewards with Apple Watch. The program makes use of a comprehensive behavioral science toolkit, encompassing short- and long-term incentives such as loss aversion and pre-commitment. Short-term incentives create a sense of immediacy, with members rewarded on a weekly basis for reaching their weekly goals.
This is all part of Vitality our Shared-Value approach to drive health improvement by creating interventions that change people’s behavior for the better.
The bottom line is the more physical activity one does, the better. Studies like these have enormous relevance for health policy and society at large and are an important tool to help employers and life and health insurers reinforce the importance of physical activity and incentivize members through their programs and benefit designs.