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Bright spots, physical activity investments that work: Vitality Active Rewards—a smartphone app that incentivises programme members to be physically active
  1. Deepak N Patel1,
  2. Craig Nossel1,
  3. Jon Patricios2,3,
  4. Joel Maboreke1
  1. 1 Research Division, Discovery Vitality, Sandton, South Africa
  2. 2 Section of Sports Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  3. 3 Department of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jon Patricios, Section of Sports Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa; jpat{at}

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Programme card


  • A smartphone app-based programme that has been activated by more than 415 000 people in South Africa.

Target population

  • Adult members of Vitality, a health promotion and disease prevention programme linked to medical and life insurance plans.

What modes/types/domains of physical activity does the programme promote?

  • The Vitality Active Rewards (VAR) programme promotes, facilitates and incentivises all modes of physical activity, including walking, gym-based activities such as yoga, aerobics, aqua-aerobics; social walking and running programmes; and endurance events such as marathons, cycle races and triathlons.

Which of the seven best investments the programme addresses?

  • The VAR programme encourages active transport (investment 3), community-wide programmes involving multiple settings and sectors and that mobilise and integrate community engagement and resources (investment 6) and sports systems and programmes that promote ‘sport for all’ and encourage participation across the life span (investment 7).

What sectors does it involve?

  • The programme is offered to members who subscribe to a private life insurance or health insurance policy offered by Discovery.

  • Estimated programme reach. the VAR app has been downloaded by approximately 415 000 adult members of Vitality in South Africa who have an Apple or Android smartphone. Vitality (and VAR) is also offered by various insurers in numerous countries across the world.

What is special about this programme?

  • Drawing on insights from behavioural economics, sports science and social marketing, the programme integrates the latest advances in digital and wearable technology with a range of distinctive options to encourage physical activity. Using rewards from a range of partner companies as incentives, the programme has potential for successful physical activity behaviour change.

Key contact

  • Deepak N Patel. Principal Clinical Specialist, Discovery Vitality.

Programme website and/or Twitter/Facebook handle





The Vitality Active Rewards (VAR) programme is a smartphone-based application that sets weekly, …

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  • Contributors JP conceived the idea of this ‘Brightspot’. DNP drafted the original version, which was added to by CN, JP and JM.

  • Competing interests DNP, CN and JM are employed by Vitality.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.