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How and why the science behind Vitality is changing liv...

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Discovery Vitality’s ability to make people healthier is backed by an enormous amount of data and science, which we’ve leveraged for 25 years - resulting in nearly three decades of positive behaviour change. We recently released The Science of Vitality Journal which shows simply and clearly, how and why our programme works. I encourage you to read it and understand the impact small changes can have on your own health, and the collective health of those who #LiveLifeWithVitality

When I look at the impact that Vitality has had on society in its 25 years of existence, it is astounding.  From a global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and our ongoing efforts to tackle non-communicable diseases, to creating financial wellbeing and making our roads safer, Vitality is life-changing for those who engage with it. 

The behaviour-change programme is backed by an enormous amount of data and science. With this in mind, we have created The Science of Vitality Journal to show simply and clearly how the programme manifests in tangible change for the better.  

We know that our most engaged members (members on Diamond Vitality status) are likely to live longer and with an improved sense of mental wellbeing, because they exercise often, eat healthier foods, and go for their health screenings regularly. 

The same can be said about our Money and Drive programmes, which also address fundamental societal issues. Using goal-setting, incentives and other behavioural economics tools, we have created positive change in society. Vitality is a powerful tool for all. 

Included in the journal are three important new pieces of research.

  • Small Steps, Strong Shield: Published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, this ground-breaking research uses Vitality data to show how even small amounts of exercise lowers the risk of death from COVID-19.
  • Working Out: Lockdown’s Lessons to Increase Physical Activity Today. Despite lockdowns creating a 49% decrease in physical activity, research from Vitality and the University of Witwatersrand Sport and Health shows that digital workouts and fitness devices helped people to move more despite the constraints imposed by lockdown.
  • In addition, an important study (currently in pre-print) produced by our Vitality Wellness team with researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Cape Town, speaks to how important physical activity is in reducing the onset of depression.

We have consolidated both independent and internal research that validates the programme’s positive impact into the journal. But the simple science of Vitality is to continue encouraging behaviour change, every day.

We do this by offering a combination of knowledge, access to wellness partners (for example, fitness clubs and devices) and brilliant incentives that increase proportionally as members engage with the programme. 

Our aim is to protect not only our members, but also the broader population in South Africa and people around the world.  The Science of Vitality Journal explains the “why” and “how” we make people healthier. I hope it informs and encourages each of you who read this to make a positive difference in your own life and to those around you.  You can read the journal here. DM/ML

Author: Dinesh Govender, CEO of Discovery Vitality

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  • Thank you Dinesh, & thank you Vitality! As a “member on Diamond Vitality status” I use Vitality to manage my Type 2 Diabetes; for the last three years, and especially during Covid lockdowns, the incentives helped me and my wife to keep active and to set realistic and measurable goals, and we are definitely healthier as a result. However, there are 3 aspects of your “behaviour change” philosophy that are worrying: first, your banking model tries to modify spending patterns without an adequate holistic picture of the client’s finances. Second, your Vitality Drive programme, while it does slow people down (not a bad thing for me, at least!), does not distinguish between defensive driving and recklessness. Finally, Vitality Health – where to start? Your information about practitioners (e.g. Diabetes specialists) is faulty, and one is sent to the wrong people, and then not supported because they are not diabetes specialists; agreements about “doctors on the network” are not honoured, and you keep cutting down on the doctors, especially those practising holistic health; when the diabetes doctor calls for tests, even directly related to my chronic conditions, they are not covered; the range of incentives has been severely cut back this year, and finally, although there are some good ideas connected with your healthy eating rewards, you do not understand the importance of growing food organically! Prof Raymond Auerbach, Soil Science & Plant Production, Nelson Mandela Uni & CoEFS UWC.

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