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Trialing Philips’s DirectLife, Part 2: A reality check for users

Posted by: Venessa Wong on October 27, 2009

Going to business events and making frequent trips to the coffee maker do not burn many calories, I’ve learned. In fact, my profile on DirectLife, Philips’s (PHG) new health program that I have been testing for two weeks, shows I spend a large part of my days sitting and typically walk less than 30 minutes. (Read my first entry here.)

Many people who commute to work by car or public transportation and eat lunch in the office may be in the same boat, and Philips believes there is an opportunity here. The company plans to market DirectLife in the B2B space and has tested it with 30 companies.

A message on my DirectLife profile, which downloads data from an activity monitor I wear everyday, states: “Good intentions are not good enough…ultimately we are measured by our actions.”

Apparently I overestimated how much activity walking to the subway and grocery store would add up to. During my eight-day assessment period, I burned an average of 612 calories per day (about the equivalent of a 6-in. pastrami sandwich at Subway and slightly more than a venti Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino at Starbucks).

From this baseline, DirectLife set a weekly goal: burn 626 calories per day. Unfortunately, last week I only averaged 470 calories (75% of my goal). Even so, the bar was raised this week to 640 calories per day and will continue to climb through the 12-week program.

In my search for ways to get active, I clicked through ideas in my account (e.g. sweep, skip rope) but have yet to email my DirectLife coach Jen Dowdeswell, based in Amsterdam, for advice. That is my next step.

Dowdeswell, 31, tells me that in one day, a coach may receive anywhere from 20 to 50 queries and initiate more than 50 emails to users. A software program helps them identify which users need the most attention. Coaches typically hold university degrees in fields such as human kinetics, behavioral science, sports science and counseling and are required by Philips to go through a training program on communicating with participants, she says.

It is Tuesday evening: I took a stroll around the block this afternoon but my activity monitor only lights up to one-third of the 100% marker, indicating I have achieved little of my daily activity quota. I feel motivated to walk at least part of the way home.

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