Sunday May 19,2013 : ONLINE GAMBLING THE MOTIVATION FOR FITNESS PROGRAM
Stanford University uses a largely sedentary pastime to boost physical activity
California's famous Stanford University has taken an ingenious approach to encouraging staff and faculty to get more exercise in the open air, combining the largely sedentary pastime of social online gambling with reward points for those who walk or cycle to work.
According to the Stanford News Service, participants in the new "Walk N Talk" program earn 10 credits for the first mile of walking or biking and three for every additional mile up to a maximum of 25 every morning and evening on workdays; they can also score credits by getting friends to sign up.
Distance is tracked with a smartphone app called My Beats.
Credits earned on the program can be spent online at social gambling websites, where small cash prizes can be won playing with the credits.
Walk N Talk grew out of the university's "CAPRI," (Congestion and Parking Relief Incentives) program designed to reduce rush-hour traffic in and around the university. Participants are similarly rewarded for driving during off-peak hours.
Both programs were the brainchild of Balaji Prabhakar, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Stanford University.
"Walking meetings don't require you to go to the gym, change clothes and take a break from work, so you don't have to choose between wellness and your obligations," Prabhakar told the Stanford News Service. "With the social aspect, maybe this could go a little viral on campus."
Walk N Talk has earned the endorsement of Provost John Etchemendy, who launched the university's wellness program in 2007.
"Now we can leverage the commute aspect of the (Capri) program with health benefits by reinforcing the behavior of those who already bike or walk to campus and get some drivers to switch to walking or biking," he said.