Achieving a healthy goal can have handy knock-on effects. “The key to making any life change, no matter how big or how small,” says clinical psychologist Dr Colinda Linde, “is to regard it as a long-term investment. Good investors are the ones who don’t let the daily ebb and flow of the stock market send them into a panic. Rather, they have a goal and a plan, and keep working at these on a daily basis.”
Appreciate the journey
Having spent many years studying the reasons behind the choices people make, Ariely concludes that when you’re trying to develop healthy habits, one of the best ways to motivate yourself – and sustain that motivation – is to reward yourself along the way for practising good behaviours, not just for achieving final outcomes.
Dr Deepak Patel, principal clinical specialist at Vitality, agrees and acknowledges that this insight was fundamental to the design of the Vitality Active Rewards and Discovery Insure apps, which offer weekly rewards for getting more active and driving better.
“People are more able to keep up healthy habits if they’re regularly rewarded in tangible ways for smaller, short-term goals, rather than promised a bigger but less tangible reward for a long-term goal,” Patel says. “By acknowledging the efforts people put in to make healthier choices every day, instead of only rewarding them for achieving their ultimate goal, they’re much more likely to succeed.”
Set out to achieve goals
In addition, there’s emerging evidence that people who exercise considerable self-control in one domain are generally more successful in others. According to the head of Vitality Wellness, Dr Craig Nossel, achieving goals in any aspect of your life can trigger other positive lifestyle behaviours.
“We see evidence of this knock-on effect in our studies,” he says. “The data demonstrates that engaging in regular physical activity (through the Vitality Active Rewards programme) is directly linked to a higher prevalence of health screenings and other Vitality benefit activations.”
After engaging in the programme, participants experienced the following lifestyle changes:
- A 28% decrease in the number of members who are smokers.
- A 12% increase in the number of members engaging in the HealthyFood benefit, which offers discounts on the purchase of healthy grocery items.
- A 24% increase in the number of members going for a Vitality Health Check (a general health screening test).
The implications of these findings are significant, because the behavioural improvements of these members translated directly into lower relative health risks and improved health outcomes:
- Overweight and obese members experienced a 1,5% and 5,4% reduction in their body mass indexes, respectively.
- Members had a lower relative mortality risk, as reflected by their Vitality Age differential, which decreased from 3 to 1,7 years older than their actual age.
- Hospital admission rates among these members decreased from 22% to 19% in the 12 months after activating Vitality Active Rewards.
“Unless you understand the science of health promotion,” says Nossel, “you won’t see the ineffectiveness of putting a warning on a cigarette box and thinking it will stop people smoking. It’s not going to happen. The reality is that we need to get much smarter and understand that all of us make irrational decisions – ones we need to actively counter when they hinder our future good health.”
Referring to the 10-week Vitality Open campaign, which invites all South Africans to earn weekly rewards for getting active and driving better, Nossel says, “Our job is to develop an architecture within our environment to get people to make smarter decisions – or at least to get them to think about their decisions. This is what Vitality is all about – incentivising people to make better choices.”
Vitality Open: Anyone can join. Everyone wins.
Download the Discovery app and join the Vitality Open to get rewarded for getting active and driving well. Achieve your goals to earn great rewards. What’s more, if you reveal a diamond, you will go into a draw to win prizes for life! Flights, petrol, gym memberships, movie and concert tickets, smoothies, coffee, tyres, Uber and Nando’s vouchers, running shoes, HealthyFood and the latest iPhone … for life!
Get active. Drive well. Get rewarded.