Aetna teams with Olympic athletes on Attain Games fitness challenge

Aetna is celebrating the first anniversary of its Attain initiative by partnering with world-class athletes to launch a week of health and fitness challenges for its users.

Attain is an app connected to Apple Watch devices that tracks users' health history and activity levels while providing personalized fitness and wellness goals. It's currently available to commercial plan members, though Aetna is looking to expand into other business lines in the future.

The Attain Games kick off Sunday, Aug. 23, and each day will give its members a slate of tasks such as meeting a certain number of steps or doing deep breathing exercises. There are also daily activities that up the difficulty and were designed alongside Olympians.

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Adam Pellegrini, senior vice president of enterprise virtual care and consumer health innovation at CVS Health, told Fierce Healthcare that the weeklong event was built with the pandemic in mind, as social distancing may be preventing members from fully reaching fitness goals.

The challenges were also intended to be "bite-sized" so users can complete them wherever they are, he said.

"They’re meant so you can get up and get going," Pellegrini said.

World champion volleyball player Rachael Adams, one of the participating athletes, told Fierce Healthcare that even as a professional athlete COVID-19 has posed a significant challenge to both staying active and maintaining good mental health.

After the 2020 Olympics were postponed, Adams was forced to "get creative" to keep up with her fitness, she said.

"If it’s hard for an Olympic athlete to kind of get moving and keep their mental health high during quarantine, I can’t imagine how difficult it is for others," she said.

Her need to find a creative way to mix up the routine is reflected in the challenge she designed for the event, called "Pack on the Pounds." To spice up a walk to meet step goals, users can fill a backpack with canned goods or other items around the house, adding weight, Adams said.

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The weeklong event builds on the results Attain's members have already achieved to date. In the app's first year, users have logged 6 billion calories burned and 6.8 million daily goals achieved, according to Aetna. That includes 233 million minutes of exercise recorded, 75 billion steps taken and 6 million health actions completed.

Users have redeemed $1.8 million in rewards, which include gift cards to retailers like Amazon or Starbucks or putting the value toward the cost of the Apple Watch, Aetna said.

The Attain Games will have its own set of redeemable rewards in addition to in-app badges and medals to mark progress, Pellegrini said, offering both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards for meeting the challenges.

"What we want to see are small simple tiny steps, small key health moments, that are rewarded and reinforced," he said.