The whole notion of rewarding certain behaviours is far from new, and not least on the web. Things like cash back websites that give people financial rewards for shopping and doing other things online have a long track record.
AchieveMint aim to do a similar thing for health. The site works with various health and fitness social networks, alongside more mainstream ones such as Twitter and Foursquare. The site will then track your behaviours on those sites, and reward you with points. So if for instance you go for a run, and log that run on RunKeeper, you get points.
As a cyclist, there were not any cycling specific networks attached to the site, but I’ll overlook that personal gripe for now. You can also only redeem your points if you’re a US citizen, so again, not exactly ideal for me.
So you earn points for doing stuff, and once you have enough points, you can convert those into either cash or merchandising. At the moment, one thousand points is akin to $1 in cash.
The site has been in operation since January and has around 100,000 users thus far. I must say that I can’t see myself being motivated to exercise or live healthily by the possibility of earning a small cash sum for doing so, that motivation is kinda already there. I suspect however that I’m not really their target market (apart from being a non-US resident of course).
There are some peculiarities about the site too, such as how tweeting about health is in any way a reflection of you living a healthy lifestyle. My local gym is also sadly full of people who think attending the gym is enough in itself, and largely go through the motions whilst there. This may be better than sitting on the couch, but hardly represents a good workout.
From my cycling experience, social networks such as Strava have taken off not because they offer rewards for doing things, but rather because they allow you to compete against other people on the same route, or even the same part of the route (your favourite hill for instance).
That sites such as Strava for cycling, and Nike+ for running have grown to be such huge communities suggests that, for these users at least, motivation comes from within, and racking up points to cash in at a later date is unlikely to get them outside.
Of course anything that gets people active is a good thing, but for me, I’m very much in the skeptic camp when it comes to its eventual success in making people healthier.Original post