Shouldering many taxing academic burdens and pressures, college students often relegate their health to the margins. A study of more than 200 undergraduate students demonstrated that there is a significant decline in physical activity levels during the transition between high school and college. Many college students select their food based on convenience, taste, and time instead of nutritional value. In addition, the average students gets around 6 hours of sleep, well below the needed 7-9 hours of sleep. Neglecting these key components of health can result in many severe consequences and risks including but not limited to:
- Impaired brain development
- Poor coordination
- Increased negative feelings
- Increased risk of heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes
- Poor weight management
This website encourages healthy habits by correlating input information to the growth and care of a virtual dog. Initially, the virtual pet starts out as a puppy and requires more care and time, specifically around two months which is the time it takes to form a new habit. Gathering data from the user’s phone health analytics app, the website tracks if the user has been meeting healthy goals. If so, the user’s dog will grow and thrive and show signs of it such as high levels of energy. The converse is true; the dog will display some symptoms of unhealthy choices like lack of energy or negative moods. Thus, the user has an incentive to in order not to harm their little doggo.
Some of the benefits of practicing healthy habits in sleep, diet, and activity include
- Improved grades
- Better memory
- Lowered risk of obesity
- Decreased chances of getting sick
- Improved mood
- Decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes
- Relieve stress
- Improve concentration
- Improved immune system
- Increased energy levels
- Lower high cholesterol
Some tips to practice health-promoting habits~
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule
- Limit naps, but if you do nap, nap for 20 to 30 minutes
- Decrease blue light (light from electronic devices) exposure
- Take the stairs
- Seize the opportunity to walk
- Join a club sport, intramural sport, or a P.E. class
- Try to include at least one fruit and vegetable
- Aim for a colorful plate
- Drink water
With more time, knowledge, and resources, we would expand this idea in the following ways:
- A more complex weighing system: Currently there are only three weights available, specifically in decreasing weight as the choice gets unhealthier. We take the average of all three categories, water, sleep, nutrition, activity, and output a dog based on the average. Ideally, we would have a more nuanced weight system as well as more animations for the corresponding results.
- Add more notifications: We do not have notifications, but we believe that having notifications throughout the day could serve as useful reminders to keep users on track.
- Adjust based on existing behavior: Currently, there are existing set healthy and unhealthy standards for each category such as 7,000 steps a day or 8 cups of water. Ideally, we would have the standards adjust based on the user’s existing data and personal information and personalize those standards to the user’s current state.