Runners and walkers can download the pocket-sized workout tool to track fitness via GPS.
People with active lifestyles are visiting the Apple App Store and the Android Marketplace to download their free IBX Healthy Steps Pedometer app for their iPhones and Android mobile devices.
As the first free app of its kind from a health insurer, the GPS-based IBX Healthy Steps Pedometer app will help runners and walkers better track their workouts, monitor their fitness levels, and reach their health goals.
"We are putting technology to work to enhance our members' health and the wellness of the people we serve," said Daniel J. Hilferty, president and CEO of Independence Blue Cross. "Using social networking, including Facebook, Twitter, and text messaging, we're connecting our members to information and innovative programs that will help them lead healthier lives. With the launch of our first mobile app, the IBX Healthy Steps Pedometer, we are proud to introduce an easy-to-use, innovative fitness tool to help people get started with exercise or to stay on the right track for good health."
Hilferty said the IBX Healthy Steps app will serve members who are already focused on fitness and may inspire those who are just getting started, and because it is free and available to anyone, it's easily accessible to help them get engaged in regular exercise, knowing they can start at their own pace and easily track progress.
"More and more, I find convenience a big factor in my decisions," said Matt Galletti, a marketing supervisor for a media company and a health plan member of Independence Blue Cross. "I choose apps that help make my activities and my life easier and the Healthy Steps app does just that. I've used two other pedometer apps but really loved the intuitive, user-friendliness of the Healthy Steps app. I am finding it to be a great boost to my workout routine."
According to Neilson, one-third of Americans already have smart phones, and with this demographic growing monthly, the pedometer app has the potential to help millions of people get fit with a new way to track exercise in a pocket-sized workout tool.
The IBX Healthy Steps Pedometer app is customizable by gender, height, and weight to precisely calculate calories burned with each workout, and:
track the length, speed, and distance of a walk, jog, or run.
follow the user's location using a GPS-enabled map.
save results of workouts to view improvement over time.
share workout status with friends using integrated Facebook, Twitter, and text messaging.
provide BMI, daily hydration needs, personal health stats, and a variety of health calculators.
Galletti noted that with other pedometer apps he has noticed some lack of accuracy but was thrilled to test the Healthy Steps app's distance calculation and found it "right on the money." "I think people expect when you download a free app, you're going to see a lot of advertising, but I loved the clean simplicity of this app, and the way it was easy to pick up and figure out very quickly," Galletti added.
"The feature I liked best was the GPS mapping tool - seeing right where I was on my jogging trail, and then being able to save that route to know over the course of a month how much ground I covered." Galletti says he has recommended the app to friends and plans to use it in his third Blue Cross Broad Street Run in May 2012.
"We are creating tools, products and services that will improve or enhance our members' lives," said John Janney, senior vice president of Marketing Services. "Mobile phones are particularly effective in reaching our members because wherever our members go, their iPhones or Android phones are right there, too. There are mobile apps for almost everything consumers do - health care and wellness are no exception since they are key elements to enjoying life."
Janney explained that 9,000 Independence Blue Cross members who were participants of the 2011 Blue Cross Broad Street Run were offered the Healthy Steps app first, in the initial release of the app last month. He said the free app offers year-round support of these participants' training programs to stay fit and well.
The IBX Healthy Steps Pedometer app is part of IBX Healthy Steps, a program that suggests incremental, manageable changes that can make a big difference in a person's overall health. The Healthy Steps Pedometer app offers features for those at every workout level - from neighborhood walkers to beginner runners, to veteran marathon participants. A pilot test group of runners provided feedback that having their pedometer in the same device as their music source simplifies what they need to grab as they get ready for a run. Everything is in one piece of equipment - the mobile phone, which Americans rarely leave home without.
The pilot test group participants also praised the ability to share their workout progress with friends in a competitive spirit, and to help encourage coworkers along in their training by commenting on the automatic Facebook and Twitter posts that the app can send. A few who were traditional pedometer users, said they like that they no longer have to carry a bulky pedometer on their waistband that calibrates steps and motion.
Instead, the IBX Healthy Steps Pedometer app can help runners and walkers:
send home an automated message when they hit a mile mark on a training run - so family can know when to expect the runner within a specified time-frame.
have friends meet them at an event finish line at an estimated time based on auto-sent messages friends received from earlier mileage points.
work toward a goal such as 100 miles in a month, and track progress.
Members of the public can download the app for free from iTunes for the iPhone or use their Android device to download it from the Android Marketplace. Feedback from new users is encouraged via the iPhone app store and Android Marketplace comment sections.
Independence Blue Cross developed the Healthy Steps app in collaboration with ObjectWave Corporation. Based in Chicago, ObjectWave is a technology provider with a focus on helping enterprises bring mobile strategies to market rapidly.
Independence Blue Cross will soon launch the new IBX mobile portal via another free down-loadable app that will allow members to manage their health plan, get their own personal health data and benefits information on the go, right in the palm of their hands. Through the convenience of IBX Mobile, members will also be able to find a doctor in the network, access their personal health record, or help a friend get a quote for individual health plan coverage.
About Independence Blue Cross - Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The company and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.1 million people. For 73 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.
Download the Healthy Steps Pedometer App From:
iPhone - itunes.apple.com/us/app/healthy-steps/id431858149
Android - https://market.android.com/detailsid=com.ibx.healthysteps