Update 12/2013: Virgin Pulse continues to update the site with better integration between Runkeeper and FitBit. Fitbit section now updated.
Update 10/2013: Virgin Healthmiles changed its name to “Virgin Pulse”. Virgin Healthmiles and Virgin Pulse are used interchangeably below.
Update 04/17/2013. VHM has integrated with runkeeper.com. Please see the Runkeeper section for an update on how to use it.
Update 01/21/2013. Added information for bicyclists and using the Dash App. Also, the Runkeeper sync seems to have been pushed back to February.
Your company just joined Virgin Health, or you just started at a company partnered with VirginHealthMiles (Virgin Pulse), and you’re ready to get out there and win some prizes. You want to get to the highest level Well, just how you will maximize your miles will depend on what type of person you are.
Some key steps apply to all archetypes:
- •Log in and create a profile. Fill it out completely. Upload a photo. Yes, you get lots of miles just for doing that!
- •Take a Health Snapshot. Guess what! 1,000 Miles just for the snapshot.
- •Put in your biometrics (weight/body fat) monthly.
- •Look for your friends and add them. Yes, you get some HM for that!
- •Look under “Challenges”. Virgin HealthMiles will often have weekly challenges. Just following their rules will net you 150+ miles.
- •Order your pedometer immediately. When you get it, start using it!
- •Challenge your friends (500 Miles just for setting up a challenge!).
- •Begin using Runkeeper.com, fitbit, Polar, or other apps. If you’re not familiar, get familiar, as this will be Virgin Healthmiles major “neighbor” in activities. Your activities on runkeeper will sync with Virgin Pulse under certain circumstances (and as of 12/2013, fitbit – all of them).
- •If you’re not a runner/walker, you’ll need to invest in a cheap Heart Rate monitor. It’s a great investment for health. But see the section on HRM’s before purchasing a cheap one on ebay!
- Fixed as of (12/2013)
If you use the Dash app and the pedometer at the same time, it will double-count your steps.
Jane is a Gym Rat, who spends a lot of time swimming and lifting weights. Unfortunately for Jane, she’s going to have the most difficult time recording healthmiles, and will have to go outside her normal routine to maximize her prizes.
- •As a swimmer, you will have to enter your workouts manually. Two workouts a day only equals 20 HM.
- •As a weightlifter, you will have to start wearing a Heart Rate Monitor (See the Techno-Nerd section).Sorry, the pedometer simply won’t do enough for you.
- •Start doing Interval/circuit training with the HRM. Make sure to put the Avg HR% as one of your indicators… Make sure it exceeds the “intense” level of HR as indicated by VH (found under “Polar FAQs” or 70% of your max heart rate, found by taking 220 Minus your Age x .7).
- •If you’re a bit short on the Avg HR – hit the treadmill until your HR exceeds “intense”.
- •If you strictly lift, then:
- ◦Become friends with the treadmill or add some cardio before/after your workout… 16 minutes should do it, as long as your HR exceeds “intense” level. When you work out with an average heart rate of more than 70% of your age-predicted maximum heart rate, it’s considered “intense”.
- ◦Start/End your workout with 16-17 minutes of cardio “intense” training. It’s good for you! http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/training/a/ExerciseOrder.htm
- •Participate in all the other ways to get HM – join challenges, do the VH weekly challenge, do “Quests”, get a health screening, etc. Since your activity miles will vary, this will help leapfrog you forward.
- Wear your pedometer everywhere!
- If you’re going to be on the treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical, then, and only then, place the pedometer on your foot. Or better yet, place it on your thigh (this seems to work best).
- Place the pedometer on your foot (after further experiments, I’ve found the thigh works best) whenever you go for a bike ride.
Jack has been sedentary for many years, but has a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and get back into better shape. But he hasn’t done much of anything and really isn’t that much into fitness…He’s also very, very busy.
- •You’ll need to work on good habit patterns, and the first step in that process: Wearing your pedometer. Get in the habit at the beginning of the day putting it in your pocket; At the end of the day, plug it in to your computer.
- •Baby Steps: Start with a simple goal of getting 7,000 steps a day. And don’t end up just a few steps short! (Parking farther from the store entrance will net 200-500 more steps!)
- •Make sure to do challenges even if you aren’t going to win. Sometimes just not being last is motivating!
- •Participate in the Quarterly Challenges, and the VH Quests. You’ll get a lot of points to supplement your pedometer habit!
- •Challenge your fellows at HQ with Starbucks and other treats
- •Log in to the website at least 2x per week. Good Habits and it gets points!
- •Join AIDS Walk, American Heart Association Walk, and other Sponsored walks. Lots of steps there!
- •Jog easily in place while doing dishes, waiting for the elevator, and other “standing around” points to make sure to get your step goals!
- •Take a “Health Snapshot” every month or every two weeks. It will get points, and you can see your progress!
Jill will have the easiest time of everyone getting the maximum HM, as VP emphasizes cardio workouts.
- Wear your pedometer on your runs. Afterward, check the active minutes on the pedometer –remember you will be looking for 45+ minutes.
- Wear your Heart Rate monitor and upload its information along with your steps.
- You’re a runner and you don’t train by heart rate? Really? Well… Start!
- Remember to run with your heart rate above 70% of your “Maximum” HR, determined by 220 Minus Your Age x .7. This will be an “intense” workout but still aerobic. You don’t need to run anaerobic!
- Your Yoga, Gym, and strength workouts can be entered manually, but will only net 10-20 HM’s per day, so make sure to keep your steps above 12,000 per day.
- 20,000 steps a day is hard to get if you only wear your pedometer during runs. Make sure to wear it all day, and make sure to take the stairs and park far away from your building or grocery store!
- •Get a Heart Rate monitor (Polar, Garmin, Suunto) – Anything compatible with Virgin Pulse or Runkeeper.com is the easiest way to get healthmiles! These days, heart rate monitors are cheap, but there are some cautions. Before buying one, make sure you can upload the data to polarpersonaltrainer.com, or trainingpeaks.com, or runkeeper.com, or strava.com, etc. If you already have a heart rate monitor, you should be able to make it work with VP as long as you can upload your data to one of those websites.
- A heart rate monitor is essential to getting HealthMiles if you’re not a walker/runner. It is the only way they can verify you are doing the workout you swear you are doing.
- ◦If you get/have a Polar, make sure what you get is compatible with your computer and with polarpersonaltrainer.com. There are Polar HR monitors that are compatible with Mac computers. Some of the Polar’s offered by VP are not mac-friendly. Some Polars aren’t friendly with polarpersonaltrainer.com. Don’t buy those.
- ▪Mac Compatible Polar Watches:
- •Polar FA20
- •Polar FT40
- •Polar FT60
- •Polar FT80
- •Polar RS300X
- •Polar FT7
- •Polar CS500
- •Polar RCX5
- •Polar RCX3
- •Polar RC3 GPS
- ▪Mac Compatible Polar Watches:
- Sign in to https://www.polarpersonaltrainer.com/ and create an account. Once you do, make sure to look for “Partners” under your name and put “Virgin Health” as one of the sites you are willing to share your data.
- Virgin Pulse only uses two pieces of data from polarpersonaltrainer: Your average HR and your total time. It doesn’t care about miles, kilometers, hills, fartleks, intensity, etc. Just make sure to get your heart rate above their low threshold (70%) for the majority of the exercise (if you are doing intervals, make sure they are intense and don’t do too much a rest in between. If you’re doing p90x for example, you may want to keep active during “rests” to keep the heart rate from getting too low).
- You can get any Garmin that uploads to Garmin Connect (which is, I think, all of them), but you’ll have to wait until runkeeper syncs with Virgin HealthMiles for an easy way to earning your healthmiles. Otherwise, you’ll have to do some roundabout conversions and convoluted steps to get them uploaded to polarpersonaltrainer.com.
- You’ll need to use fit2app app to upload your data from Garmin 910xt or Garmin 310xt or other late model Garmins as they use the “.fit” format.
- You can also use garminsync.com to automatically sync with runkeeper.com and strava.com any files you upload to connect.garmin.com… However, garminsync.com isn’t the most reliable I’ve found (it’s getting better). Also, it isn’t all that accurate, but good enough for VH.
Since VH has not yet revealed just what/how they will sync with Runkeeper, I don’t have details, but I would assume it will be similar to polarpersonaltrainer.com – average HR and time. Once that goes live, I’ll revise this QRH.
- VP has said that when it comes to runkeeper activities, you must maintain at least an average of 3mph over the entire time of the workout, with NO lost gps waypoints (don’t pause the watch at any time to be certain).
- You’ll need to convert the workout files to.tcx to upload to strava/runkeeper/Virgin Health.
- Currently Rubitrack will do it for Mac, and I’ve had good luck with SportTracks 3.1 for Windows. You have to install SportTracks 3.1, then download and click to install the “Export2Tcx” plugin, super easy. Once that’s done, the process after each ride is:
- Connect watch to computer
- Launch SportTracks, import the ride from your ride folder on the computer that the watch syncs with
- Export as TCX
- Follow the instructions under Timex Ironman GPS Watch to convert to .hrm and upload to polarpersonaltrainer.com until the Runkeeper sync begins with VH.
- If you are using a Suunto, please contact me and let me know any further details to add to this FAQ.
- As of 12/2013, VP has said that you can connect your fitbit account directly to VP, and you don’t need to use Runkeeper to do it. In fact, all steps counted by fitbit is just as good for challenges and other activities as using the GoZone pedometer. They say all versions of fitbit will work. I don’t own a fitbit (yet), so I can’t verify how it works with active minutes…
- ◦Congratulations on your new watch, as it natively syncs with one of the best websites out there – trainingpeaks.com. That’s the good news. For Virgin Pulse – that’s the bad news because it doesn’t autosync with runkeeper.com or VH. But there is a way to get your workouts in to get your HealthMiles!It’s a bit convoluted, but doable.
- ◦Steps to Upload to VP:
- ▪Get an account at http://www.polarpersonaltrainer.com. This will be used only for your Virgin Health miles, so don’t worry about exploring it too much. Make sure to add VP as your “Partner” and share your data!
- ▪Go to trainingpeaks.com and under account settings, export data… Export your workout (it will export as a .pwx.gz file).
- ▪Go to http://pwx.raytracer.dk/ and convert your .pwx to .tcx
- ▪If runkeeper.com is syncing with VH, upload your .tcx file to runkeeper and you’re done! …
- ▪If runkeeper is not syncing with VH, then:
- Download Ergograph. Convert from .tcx to .hrm with Ergograph (PC-Only), then upload with HRMuploader. NOTE: If you are using Ergograph, you MUST have GPS information – even if you didn’t go anywhere!
- Download HRMUploader from http://rikara.blogspot.ca/2009/04/uploading-old-polar-hrm-data-to-polar.html
- Run HRMUploader (make sure you have java installed!) and sign in to your polarpersonaltrainer.com account
- Upload your workouts.
- Voila! - It takes about 5 minutes for polarpersonaltrainer to sync with VP (they say 15 minutes).
- Caution: If you are using this work-around to upload you workouts, please keep in mind that ergograph and Polar do not recognize “starts” and “stops” (ie, pauses) in workouts. Consequently, even if you pause your watch, it will determine average HR from the time you start until the time you finally “finish” (or reset) your workout on the watch. So once you start – don’t stop, or you’ll lower that average HR!
With the latest release of the Virgin Pulse, you can now earn healthmiles through activities on Runkeeper. The functionality, however, has been horrible for me. Wherein I’ll see my “active minutes” in the activity log, it refuses to grant me “healthmiles” for active minutes from Runkeeper. Recently (12/3013) they added a “Sync Runkeeper” button which will hopefully increase reliability:
- (As of 12/2013, fitbit steps DO count). If you use fitbit or other devices for steps, those steps
do not count for challenges. The only time active minutes or steps count is through the pedometer.
- In order to get credit from Runkeeper, you must not have any missing GPS points. That means, once you start the app, do not pause the app. Pausing could cause the “loss” of GPS points and prevent credit
- You must proceed faster than 4mph in order for the activity to count.
- HR does not matter with runkeeper.
- If your device saves your information in .fit or .tcx format, you can upload them to runkeeper, and VHM will count that credit. It will not count for challenges, however.