A friendly teardrop-shaped intergalactic traveller needs our help as he embarks on adventures through a variety of lands.
That’s not the plot of a new locally-produced science fiction film, but rather a first-of-its-kind health programme designed by Singapore Health Promotion Board (HPB), in conjunction with Apple, to help Singaporeans lead healthier lives.
It’s all encompassed in the LumiHealth app, which sets out challenges for users to complete together with their Apple Watch. Along the way, Lu, the aforementioned intergalactic traveller, gets the energy he needs to advance in his journey and users get rewards.
WAIT. Users get rewards? I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t the first thing that caught my eye when I heard about LumiHealth; you can earn S$380 in HPB eVouchers just by doing things for the benefit of your health.
As someone who considers himself to be relatively healthy and active, this seems like an opportunity to earn rewards without making drastic changes to my lifestyle.
Sounds like a convenient win-win situation to me.
All I needed was to be at least 17 (I am), have an iPhone running iOS 13 or later (I do), have an Apple Watch that has watchOS 6 or later (yep, I do), and a SingPass account to register.
So I downloaded the app and gave it a go.
Getting personalised challenges
Upon launch, the app introduced me to Lu, telling the story of his journey thus far and how he gets his energy when we complete healthy actions.
These healthy actions, the app would explain, include challenges that encourage physical activities and general wellness through developing habits related to exercise, sleep, mental wellbeing, nutrition and more.
As part of the initial challenges, I completed a short questionnaire on what I wished to get out of using the app and I picked having more energy and feeling less stressed at work as two things I hoped to get out of using the app.
This allows the app to serve personalised activity and wellness challenges based on my health goals and Apple Watch activity.
The completion of these various activity and wellness challenges will then charge Lu with energy, allowing him to advance in the game.
Along this path are coins that Lu picks up and kindly gives to you. Every 1,500 coins collected can be converted into a S$5 HPB eVoucher. Nice.
After completing the introduction and the personalisation questionnaire, it was time for my first wellness challenge: complete a breathe session for a minute.
It might seem simple and inconsequential, but following the instructions on the Apple Watch’s Breathe app — “be still and bring your attention to your breath” — really helped to bring a sense of calm.
After just a minute, I definitely felt more relaxed and less stressed — a great reminder to take a quick break during a busy workday.
Another wellness challenge the app brought up was called “Ditch the Distractions”.
This challenge got me to give up one somewhat-unhealthy habit (such as endlessly scrolling through social media) for four days.
I decided that I probably could spend less time gawking and hate-sharing random memes on Twitter, so it was time to cut back.
Each day, if I’d managed to give up on that distraction, I could then return to the LumiHealth app and update my progress.
While it didn’t exactly fit my preconceived notion of being healthy, taking a break from social media actually felt quite good, especially on the weekends.
During the afternoon lulls when I was sitting at home doing nothing, I used the impulse to scroll as a reminder to read a book instead. The effect was a sense of accomplishment by the end of the weekend, as opposed to the all-too-familiar feeling of lethargy and self-loathing.
Other than wellness challenges, LumiHealth also pulled up a few tasks that were educational in nature. One task sent me to take a quick two-minute online Diabetes Risk Assessment — which I learned should be done at least once every two years for people aged 18 to 39.
Once I’d completed that, I returned to the app with my results and was presented with some useful tips on how to minimise my risk of developing diabetes. Another 2,500 points were awarded and Lu edged closer to another set of coins.
Closing the Activity rings
Of course, there were also physical activities to be completed.
Closing the Activity rings on your Apple Watch involves three different things: moving, exercising, and standing.
For each ring you close, LumiHealth awards the user 100 points, with a special bonus of 8,000 points dished out when you manage to complete your activity challenge for the week.
Closing the “Move” ring means burning calories. Any kind of movement counts; we burn calories through everyday activities.
For example, one Saturday, I closed the “Move” ring by walking around town and then going for a breezy evening run.
The “Exercise” ring measures the time you’ve spent doing any activity at a “brisk pace” — so time I’d spent running counted into it as well.
For the “Stand” ring, the Apple Watch measures how often you’ve stood up and moved around for at least a minute. Doing so every hour for 12 hours closes this ring, and of course, also keeps you healthier.
Studies have found that people who sit for prolonged periods of time increase their risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.
Four days, S$5
Before writing this article, I used the LumiHealth app for four days, taking part in at least seven different challenges, as well as trying to close my activity rings on a daily basis.
Admittedly, I did get a little bit of a kick from watching Lu move up the virtual pathway towards more coins.
But more importantly, the experience got me to think a bit more intentionally about my health and wellbeing, and helped to kickstart some habits that I hope to continue.
Over four days, where I used the app to various degrees of intensity (more on weekends, less on work days), I earned myself 1,560 coins, enough to redeem a S$5 HPB eVoucher which can be used at a whole range of places, from supermarkets to cinemas to restaurants.
Along the way it gave good reminders to take care of myself, beyond just physical fitness but also mental wellness — something that I wasn’t too cognisant of.
Not a bad experience at all if you ask me, and a great easy-going way for anyone to get healthier.
New users who download the LumiHealth app from 6 Feb 2021 will receive a limited edition Lu plush toy, while stocks last.
Download the LumiHealth app here.
Writing this Health Promotion Board-sponsored article got the writer thinking about what healthy habits he should be incorporating into his life.
Top image by Gervyn Louis/Garry Butterfield/Tobi Law via Unsplash