With Vitality, the more active you are, the more benefits you’ll receive. And, crucially, that doesn’t mean being stuck in the gym for hours on end. Groundbreaking devices – such as Fitbug and Garmin trackers and Polar heart monitors – enable members to track their day-to-day activities, whether that’s doing a spot of gardening or taking the dog for a walk. These everyday efforts are then rewarded with Vitality points, which means that – yes – every step counts.

So who’s using these devices? It’s no surprise to learn they’ve proven a hit with pretty much everyone, but – interestingly – research suggests that engagement increases with age, while the popularity of the traditional gym declines at approximately the same rate. Vitality members in the 56-plus age group are just as likely to use a wearable device as they are to go to the gym. The conclusion? These gadgets can hold a unique appeal for older clients who wouldn’t otherwise feel inclined to embark on an exercise regime.

EMBRACING THE TREND

Wearable devices are currently one of the world’s hottest fitness trends. They’re part of the fast-growing ‘Quantified Self’ movement, that is, people keen to measure their own lifestyle data. In response to this, companies such as Apple and Microsoft are now embedding activity tracking into their devices.

A few statistics? In a 2012 survey by nVision, nearly half the adults questioned said they’d be interested in using a non-intrusive device to monitor their blood pressure and cholesterol. Four out of 10 were keen to monitor their calorie and fat intake, with a similar number looking to track their weight and body mass index (BMI). Only 30% said they had no interest in any form of health self-monitoring.

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE

So what does this mean for Vitality members? They can choose from a variety of cutting-edge wearable devices and link them to their accounts to monitor their progress, set themselves targets and accumulate points. For example, walk 12.500 steps and you can earn 10 Vitality points.

The more you do, the bigger and better benefits you’ll see. And all the evidence suggests that wearable devices can encourage everyone to become more active – providing a particular incentive for anyone who feels daunted by the idea of joining a gym.

EVERYONE’S A WINNER

Indeed, when people first think about doing more exercise and getting in shape, they often imagine it will involve a huge, time-sucking lifestyle change. Getting a wearable device that counts their steps or monitors their heart rate can highlight why this isn’t the case. First, it will help them track the amount of activity they’re already doing. And second, it allows them to monitor their behaviour gradually. They may not feel ready to run a mile just yet, but using the stairs instead of taking the lift to the second floor? That’s just about doable.

However, it’s important to remember that gym lovers won’t lose out either. Members earn 10 points for going to a Virgin Active gym – for which we offer a discount. A joining fee will apply. And if a member belongs to another gym, they can use their wearable device to earn Vitality points while they’re there.

GOING FOR GOLD

The key here is variety. Wearable devices simply present members with more possibilities and ways to stay motivated and engaged.

Nobody knows this more than 49-year-old Vitality member Andy Barnard, whose varied exercise routine includes running, swimming, cycling, racket sports and gym sessions. He may sound like a fitness fanatic – but little over a year ago, Andy was a self-confessed couch potato who could barely swim and struggled to ride a bike for long. Nowadays, he fits his early morning or evening workouts around a demanding job and busy family life.

“If I just went to the gym all the time, I’d be bored stupid,” he laughs. “But by doing lots of different activities and setting myself varied goals, I’m exercising every muscle and can see quicker results. It’s also good to get out in the fresh air. Through Vitality, I bought a half-price Polar heart monitor, which I’ve connected to Vitality. I use it to track my progress whenever I’m in the gym, out for a run or on my bike. It’s great because I can see exactly how I’m doing and use the results to set myself new targets.”

One of Andy’s goals is to boost his Vitality status so he can reap the improved benefits and rewards. “When I signed up to Vitality, my status was Bronze, but I worked hard and got to Silver pretty quickly,” he explains. “I’m now about halfway from Silver towards Gold. It’s added incentive to stick at it. Once I get there, my plan is to buy a new bike through Vitality with Evans Cycles and get cashback.. I think it’s important to set myself proper challenges. And once I get there, set myself another one.”

SEE THE BENEFITS IN NUMBERS

– Vitality members who use wearable devices are almost 30% more likely to have a body mass index (BMI) in the healthy range.

– People who use wearable devices within Vitality are more active than non-members who use them – and twice as likely to still be engaged with their devices after a year.

– On average, Vitality members walk an extra 790 steps per day, compared to non-members who use the same devices. This equates to approximately 200km extra each year; that adds up to almost five marathons.

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