Who are the fittest South Africans? Vitality makes the discovery

13 September 2018 - 07:30 By Shanthini Naidoo
Which city is the most active? Cape Town take first place.
Which city is the most active? Cape Town take first place.
Image: Supplied

In a drastic move to combat obesity‚ the chronic burden of disease – and bad driving habits – South Africans are being offered a chance to change their lifestyles.

The Vitality model‚ which rewards members with healthy smoothies‚ coffee‚ cash back and savings on insurance for meeting goals around getting fit and driving well‚ has proven so successful that it has been copied in international markets such as the UK and Japan.

Proven to get people eating healthier‚ and up to 30% more active‚ Head of Vitality Wellness Craig Nossel said the lifestyle offering will now be available to any South African who can afford to sign up in the next 10 weeks.

Until now‚ Vitality has only been accessible to Discovery Health medical aid members‚ creating a bit of smoothie envy among middle-class South Africans on other medical aids.

Image: Supplied

Dr David Jankelow‚ a cardiologist with the SA Heart Association said: “Exercise is a surprisingly simple antidote to the global tsunami of lifestyle-related illnesses. It may be more important than medicines when it comes to preventing and sustaining good health. I strongly believe in the prescription of physical activity and encourage all South Africans to get moving.” At the launch of the Road to a Healthier SA 2018 survey‚ Nossel said our collective weight and sedentary lifestyles are costing the country millions in healthcare – and the lives of our citizens.

“We‚ as individuals are able to play an essential role in ensuring we live longer‚ healthier and happier lives. There are two key behaviours that are causing significant morbidity and mortality: how we drive‚ and how active we are. More than 1.25 million people die as a result of road crashes every year – that’s 3‚425 people a day – while more than 5 million deaths could be avoided annually if everyone exercised regularly. We need to start by understanding human behaviour a lot better in order to create an environment that’s more conducive to healthier lifestyles.”

Image: Supplied

Gamified goals means that by driving well and exercising‚ as well as shopping for healthy food‚ members can earn instant rewards like international flights‚ investments‚ fitness devices and grocery vouchers. Incentives include gym sign-up fees reduced to R799 a lifetime‚ up to 50% back on first-year insurance premiums and R700 cash back per month for driving well.

Meanwhile‚ statistics from the survey show that Cape Town has the most active citizens‚ while Bloemfontein has the least.

Johannesburg‚ Pretoria and Durban came in second‚ third and fourth respectively‚ followed by PE in fifth place. Young men were the most active‚ while older women are the least.