Incentives and physical activity: an assessment of the association between Vitality’s Active Rewards with Apple Watch benefit and sustained activity improvements
Nov 27, 2018
Findings suggest that incentivising physical activity to tackle sedentary lifestyles can improve activity levels. The study confirms that a loss-framed incentive such as the Vitality Active Rewards with Apple Watch benefit can improve physical activity levels beyond the incentive induced by a gain-framed scheme, which provides individuals only with rewards for physical activity such as the Vitality Active Rewards programme.
The benefits of physical activity include a lowered risk of some major non-communicable diseases and improving wellbeing and mental health. However, roughly about one third of the global adult population is not meeting the minimum weekly level of physical activity recommended by the World Health Organisation.
Discovery, a South African multi-national insurance group, offers two types of incentives to its members: Vitality Active Rewards and Vitality Active Rewards with Apple Watch. The Vitality Active Rewards scheme, a gain-framed incentive, rewards individuals for tracking and reaching different thresholds of physical activity, whereas the Vitality Active Rewards with Apple Watch benefit makes monthly repayments for an Apple Watch in amounts linked to different levels of physical activity thresholds that the individual reaches per month.
Discovery commissioned RAND Europe to conduct an independent assessment on whether the Vitality Active Rewards with Apple Watch benefit is associated with increased physical activity levels for Vitality members that take up the benefit, compared to those individuals that only participate in the Vitality Active Rewards programme. The study also examined whether these associations persist over time.
The findings of this study suggest that incentivising physical activity to tackle inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle can lead to better activity levels. When more unhealthy individuals take up an incentive of this kind, the results can lead on average to a more pronounced behaviour change than we see in already relatively more active and healthy individuals. This is important when designing health promotion programmes.
The Vitality programme and Vitality's Active Rewards incentive and Active Rewards with Apple Watch benefit
Research approach: data and methods
Results and discussion
Summary of the literature linking financial incentives and physical activity
Associations between participating in Active Rewards and tracked physical activity levels