Bad news for Discovery Vitality subscribers using an Apple Watch

Discovery has said it will not support the new pause feature in Apple’s WatchOS 11 Health app. Pausing your activity streak will not influence how Vitality Active Rewards are measured on the Apple Watch.

This comes after Apple’s announcement that its upcoming WatchOS 11 will include a feature on the Apple Health app that lets users pause their Activity Rings if they are injured or want a rest day.

Discovery uses the Apple Health app to track Vitality members’ physical activity by linking their devices, such as the Apple Watch, to the Discovery app.

By completing weekly goals that run from Saturday morning until Friday night, Vitality members receive rewards from the Vitality Active Rewards programme.

One of the rewards is having their Apple Watch subsidised in full if certain health goals are met and users have a Discovery Bank credit card.

“As a Vitality Health member, you can fully fund your Apple Watch by achieving all your weekly Vitality Active Rewards exercise goals over a consecutive 24-month period,” Discovery explained in its Apple Watch benefit guide.

The Apple Watch Series SE GPS Aluminium Case Sport 40mm and Series 9 GPS Aluminium Case Sport 41mm were available as part of the benefit.

Discovery Vitality strategic programmes head Karen Johnson told MyBroadband that the new update will not influence Discovery’s tracking of users’ goals.

“Members cannot use the ‘pause’ feature on the Apple watch to put their Active Rewards goals on hold,” Johnson said.

“However, once a member achieves a 25-week goal streak, they can earn a rest week on Vitality Active Rewards.”

The pause update to Apple Health is meant to allow users a rest day if they are sick or injured, which Vitality users can do, according to Johnson.

A case can be made to reduce Active Rewards Goals if members can’t achieve them due to medical reasons so users are not unfairly prejudiced if injured or fall ill.

This process is overseen by medical doctors who make case-specific decisions based on the circumstances of the request.

Discovery Vitality “tricks” the brain into healthier habits

Discovery Vitality South Africa CEO Dinesh Govender said that it is very difficult to keep people motivated to pursue habits that will have benefits for them only in the long term.

People fall off the wagon and take the path of least resistance for immediate gratification — whether having an ice cream, a piece of chocolate, or scrolling on social media.

To help members make long-term behavioural changes that will benefit their health, Vitality has “got to trick the brain” by bringing rewards typically felt in the long term into the present.

It does this through a combination of its micro-rewards, such as smoothies and Discovery Miles, which are given as immediate gratification and longer-term big rewards, such as free flights with Discovery Travel.

These rewards give a short-term incentive for habits with long-term health benefits while encouraging the healthy habits to continue for longer so Vitality members can receive larger rewards.

Govender explained that it is important for these rewards to be tangible and be felt immediately, giving members instant gratification for exercise, healthy eating, and good financial behaviour.

In 2023, Discovery gave out 1.44 million coffees and smoothies to members as micro-rewards for healthy habits.

Discovery members also spent 7.42 billion miles in 2023, which they received as rewards for behavioural changes.

Vitality’s efforts to help members sustain healthy habits resulted in over 8,000 members achieving exercise goal streaks in multiples of 100, with nearly 2,000 sustaining their habits over 300 days.

In 2024, Vitality will expand its offering by launching its Vitality Fitness platform later in the year to make it even easier for members to engage in physical activity.

Its HealthyFood partnership with Checkers and Sixty60 will go live in September 2024, promising the chance to earn 75% back on healthy food items.

Vitality members get up to 25% back on their grocery spend on thousands of healthy food items at partners Woolworths and Pick n Pay.

These rewards are boosted for Discovery Bank clients who get up to 75% back. Last year, members were rewarded with over 70 million healthy food items on the benefit.

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Bad news for Discovery Vitality subscribers using an Apple Watch