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We have more access to information and programs to help manage our diets and fitness than ever before, yet obesity is on the rise. By 2015, 75% of adults will be overweight and 41% will be obese. Adopting healthy behaviors can prevent obesity and associated life-threatening diseases, however, “even under the best circumstances, the relationship between our stated intentions and our […] behaviors are modest at best.”

For the class Design and the Service Experience, I joined classmates—Benjamin Gadbaw and Jojo Glick—to identify and minimize barriers to the adopting healthy behaviors for lasting lifestyle change.

To quickly familiarize ourselves with the fields of health and behavior, we spoke with doctors, physical trainers and other experts, and interviewed and surveyed more than sixty 20- to 35-year-olds who struggle to maintain healthy habits. (Fig. 1) We discovered several barriers to daily exercise: the perceived lack of time and motivation stood out equally among them. (Fig. 2) Synthesis of our research revealed a key opportunity area: the interstitial moments of our workday (e.g. waiting for the train or the down time between meetings). Developing concepts and prototyping led to the design of Sidekick: a service that brings fun exercises to young “on-the-go” working professionals who need that extra nudge to stay active during the day, wherever they are. (Fig. 3)

Sidekick consists of a Web and mobile platform that syncs with your calendar and to-do lists, and schedules location-aware exercises during the interstitial—underutilized—moments of your workday. (Fig. 4. View the Service Blueprint) Exercises are force-multiplied by a variety of inexpensive portable fitness equipment (e.g. resistance-bands and yoga balls) making workouts fun and convenient. (View the Touchpoints Diagram) Finally, Sidekick increases the health of employees and office morale while reducing employer’s insurance premiums. (View the Business Model Canvas)

  1. Amber Howard, “Feedforward: A Mobile Design Strategy that Supports Emotive Learning for Preventative Health Practices and Enduring Lifestyle Change.” (PhD diss., North Carolina State University, 2011).
  2. Wang, Y., Beydoun, M., Liang, L., Caballero, B., & Kummanyika, S. (2008). Will All Americans Become Overweight or Obese: Estimating the Progression and Cost of the US Obesity Epidemic. Obesity, 16 (10), 2323–2330.
  3. Orbell, S., & Sheeran, P. (1999). Implementation intentions and repeated behavior: augmenting the predictive validity of the theory of planned behavior. European Journal of Social Psychology, 29 (3), 349–369.