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Can An App Get Us Up Off Our Duffs?

Posted: August 16, 2013 at 1:53 pm
Categories: News

Can an app make a dent in the battle against “sitting disease?” A Hotseat pilot says yes.

It’s not called “sitting disease” for nothing. Research links our sedentary lifestyles with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and diabetes. With employees spending nearly 9 hours per day at work, employers are paying increased attention to the health risks inactivity poses. They have a battle on their hands, though. The nature of today’s work, combined with how we define commitment and success, leave many people tethered to their desks.

Can an app make a difference? The American Heart Association set forth to find out when they kicked off a two-month pilot of Hotseat. On June 3rd, users received their Hotseat invite and a unique PIN, and then it was up and at ’em!

Short Breaks Turn into Meaningful Activity

Between June and July, 2013, nearly 250 individuals (AHA employees and their guests) used Hotseat to turn short social breaks into meaningful activity. Employees set up a daily activity break goal, created a personal activity library, and defined what days and hours they wanted to take their activity breaks. Playing solo or in team challenges, they took two-minute activity breaks in the office, at home, even in the mall. By the pilot’s end, we had 78% engagement. When we checked in with users via a post-pilot survey, we found:

  • 86% said Hotseat’s invite got them excited about using the app
  • 74% found activities they wanted to do
  • 82% said Hotseat’s illustrations and activity descriptions helped them do unfamiliar exercises
  • 76% were more mindful of their time spent sitting
  • 67% took more activity breaks since using Hotseat

Favorite Features

Hotseat’s designed so users can customize their experience. Drawing from a behavior change model devised by Susan Michie, Hotseat lets users choose the activities they feel most comfortable and capable of doing and then gives them the opportunity to do them. This “setting up for success” approach ranked highly among AHA users.  They identified the following as their three most valued features:

  • Ability to choose my own activities (81%)
  • Ability to set the number of breaks I take each day (78%)
  • Ability to set days and hours when breaks are scheduled (73%)

Interesting to us, the features least valued by users were the ability to create challenges and invite guests. Ninety-eight percent of users played solo and didn’t use the challenges. That doesn’t mean they took their breaks alone. “In our office, whenever one of us had a Hotseat, whoever was available would congregate and do it together,” one respondent shared. “It really bonded us and gave us a chance to laugh and do something outside of work.”

Top Activities

Hotseat’s library consists of over 40 activities, including cardio, strength, and stretch exercises. What we’re interested in are the activities the majority of users complete—at a company, across companies, and by age or gender. At AHA, the top five activities across all users were those that could be done within arm’s length of their desks:

  • Walk
  • Shoulder shrugs
  • Bicep curls
  • Knee grab
  • Tap squats

Don’t Just Sit There

Hotseat’s single-minded in its focus, with getting people up to take short breaks regularly throughout the day the main objective. Hotseat has a not-so-hidden objective, too. It’s designed to shift people’s perception so they see themselves as people who can and do exercise. Here, too, Hotseat turned in results. “This is a wonderful solution. It woke me up,” shared Christian Caldwell, user experience and web marketing strategist at AHA. “It opened the door for me to start pushing myself. I went from planking to lunges to kettle balls. Two minutes is a gateway drug. Hotseat will speak to a lot of people and say ‘I can do this.'”

That’s a great vote of confidence for small bursts, big results—and Hotseat. But perhaps the biggest vote of confidence came from the 68% of users who’d recommend Hotseat to others.

4 responses to “Can An App Get Us Up Off Our Duffs?”

  1. Amanda Changuris says:

    Are there any plans to make this app available for consumers in general?

    • adminhs says:

      Amanda, thanks for your inquiry. It’s under consideration, but for now we’re focusing on employers and their health partners.

  2. […] Standing at my desk is the norm – moving more frequently to do squats, say hi to a coworker or maybe just shrug my shoulders? That’s happening. […]

  3. Lena Fawks says:

    I have been working a sedentary job just for 6 months by now and I have immediately gained some extra weight and have some digestion problems. I am still trying to adapt to this new lifestyle somehow

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