The American Heart Association is nearing the end of a pilot program it launched this summer using health and wellness app Hotseat and midpoint results show that 71% of the app users have taken more breaks from sitting during the workday. Moreover, nearly 87% of employees said using the app has made them more mindful of the time they spend sitting.

The AHA launched the pilot program, sending invites to over 2,000 employees, in June and achieved a 33% participation rate, double what it had seen with an earlier pilot project using a different technology.

Hotseat is a smart phone app designed to do one thing only: get employees out of their seats regularly throughout the day. “Hotseat’s very focused on that one thing only – get you up out of your seat for short activity breaks throughout the day,” says Hotseat creator Fran Melmed, who is also the founder of Context, a communication consulting firm that specializes in workplace wellness.

Hotseat is offered on a licensed model and there’s also a per user per year fee. “Beyond the app, there are branded communications to launch the program, market it and sustain it,” says Melmed, adding that currently, Hotseat is most effectively priced for 500 users and up. Fees include an employer portal that allows employers to track activitiy and how employees are using it.

Among AHA employees, 75% of those who created an account on Hotseat are active users and they’re taking, on average, five short activity breaks per day.

Employees set up a break profile, which includes selecting activities from the app’s library – those they feel comfortable and capable of doing. “That’s very important because what we’re trying to do is have people who are motivated, have them identify activities they are capable of doing and those two things together – motivation and capability – are then facilitated with the opportunity to act leads to behavior change,” says Melmed.

Users then set up the number of breaks they want to take each day and the days and the hours they want to take those breaks. Hotseat will even sync the breaks with the employee’s calendar. “Because this is smart phone delivered, it can sync with their calendar and look for time pockets that are open, which allows for creating an opportunity that is more likely to be taken,” says Melmed. “It becomes a daily, personal, rotating schedule that coordinates with your other work schedule.”

Activity breaks are short – just two minutes – and Hotseat will send a meeting reminder straight to an employee’s phone. “You’ll be prompted to take the break, slide your phone open to Hotseat and you’ll be prompted to either do the activity, snooze or skip,” explains Melmed. “You’re given the opportunity to snooze because it recognizes you might be in the middle of a phone call. You’re also given the opportunity to skip and you’re prompted to reschedule. Those that press ‘do it’ will come to a screen with instructions and a timer, which will time them down as they do their activity.”

Users can play in solo mode or challenge mode. “If you play in a challenge, you and I would need to complete all of our challenges in order to not be eliminated. And if one person is eliminated, then the other person wins,” says Melmed. “You want to keep our string of unbroken but completed activities done for as long as we can until we can defeat the other person.”

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