When you’re trying to start an exercise routine, any incentive is helpful. How about getting paid to get off the sofa? Wellcoin, a new app (free; iOS and Android)created in Boston, bills itself as the world’s first health currency, which aims to fatten your wallet while you’re slimming down.
“Wellcoin was founded on the premise that rewarding people for easy-to-adopt, positive behaviors can help create lasting lifestyle changes,” says Dr. Glenn Laffel, one of the founders of Wellcoin who’s worked at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston.
The idea is that exercise isn’t the only way to be healthy, and that each new better-for-you habit is a step to wellness that will keep snowballing as you use the app.
“Wellcoin invokes a broad, welcoming, inclusive view of health and wellness,” adds Laffel. “We recognize that everyone makes many healthy choices every day. We meet folks where they are today, and help them step forward to create new healthy habits for themselves.”
How it works:Do something good, tell Wellcoin, profit! If you already use a fitness tracker like FitBit, that data can be used to verify your exercise claims (yes, there’s accountability) so you get more points than just by claiming you took the stairs instead of the elevator. The app integrates with more than 200 others that track exercise, nutrition and more to keep you earning Wellcoins.
Beyond exercise:It’s not just working out that gets rewarded. There are hundreds of activities that earn Wellcoins, good habits from getting enough sleep (at least seven hours per night) to preventive check-ups. Ditched your daily Diet Coke for a water with lemon? That counts!
Activities are worth between one and 180 Wellcoins based on several factors, including a time element that incorporates both short-term (how long you spent doing the activity) and long-term (its impact on your future health) effects.
Why it works:The benefits of a healthier lifestyle can take a long time to appear or produce intangible results — does a daily green juice, however healthy, sound appetizing? Probably not. Wellcoin provides immediate rewards, not just through the free swag but also a community all making the same small changes and cheering each other on.