The Philips DirectLife Exercise Motivation System

by Jackie Wicks

How To Find Out If This Product Will Work For You

If you are looking to find the motivation to exercise, the first thing you need to do is discover what your “Exercise Motivation Type” is. If you are internally motivated, your motivation can most likely come from within. If you are externally motivated, you are going to need to discover what kinds of stimulus you respond to. Here are three very basic motivation types we have observed:

Type 1: If you are already a hard-core athlete, maybe a runner who uses a Garmin, you probably already have plenty of motivation to exercise. You have a training schedule, maybe you do your “long run” on Saturdays. Your only limitation is the occasional injury or family duty.

Type 2: You also may have already successfully started on some sort of program to run your first 5k. In this case you also probably already have enough motivation, based on what we have seen in the PEERtrainer community.

Type 3: But if you are like 96% of the rest of the population (totally unscientific number!), exercise is likely not on the top of your priority list. It may be something you think about doing, but when it comes down to it, you find that it remains on your “to do” list at the end of each day or week.

The PEERtrainer Test Lab

For the last three months PEERtrainer has been conducting a very in-depth and hands on test of the new Philips DirectLife “exercise motivation system.” I’m not sure exactly how the marketing folks at Philips define this product, but this what this product seems to do for a lot of the people who use it.

We had a chance to use the product ourselves, but more importantly we had about three dozen PEERtrainer community members use it and test it. The results have been very interesting, and have given us a great insight into how people are (and are not) motivated. We hear from people who say to us “I just want a switch that I can turn on to get motivated to exercise.”

If you are someone who is struggling to get the motivation to exercise, and are looking for that “switch” you will want to read this entire article.

How DirectLife Increases Your Motivation To Exercise:

There are many companies that make devices that are designed to measure your exercise with the objective of helping you manage your exercise and motivating you to do more of it. What seems to be setting the Philips DirectLife system apart from the others is a keen understanding of human psychology.  We will take a minute to explain why and how this is the case. If you are looking to purchase a device or system to help you exercise more, the key question you need to be able to answer to yourself is, “will this product work for me, will I be one of those people who responds well.”

Philips DirectLife consists of small device that you wear during the day. You attach it to a shoe, a necklace or you put it in your pocket. It is an advanced device that measures both movement and acceleration.  This enables the device to measure how much you move and the intensity of your movement.

The device has six lights on the outside. As you exercise and move during the day, the lights go on one by one. Most importantly, this device is tied to a website where you manage your personal activity levels,  and your activity is overseen by an actual coach who provides periodic feedback.

There are two very important benefits that the DirectLife website provides.

1.     When you begin the DirectLife program, the system measures your current level of activity and measures your “baseline” for a week. This is helpful for a couple reasons. First of all it helps you to come face to face with reality. There are studies that show that the vast majority of people believe their level of activity is higher than it really is. (Probably in direct proportion to the number of people who think their caloric intake is less than it really is!!) Secondly, this week long assessment helps set the stage for a very gradual increase in your exercise levels. Philips really understands the need to build a solid foundation over time.

2.     The fact that an actual coach is going to be looking at your activity on a monthly basis is a HUGE motivator for many. Just like with PEERtrainer, when you think there is a chance that someone is looking at your logs, it can provide a greater level of accountability. PEERtrainer has conducted in-depth conversations with the leader of their coaching practice, and we will share some of her insights and observations in this article.

A third benefit that we see is that system is excellent for people who are competitive in some way. People keep mentioning how the “lights” on the device motivate them. Based on your personal plan and current goal, the sixth light turns on when you hit your 100% target. As you will see in the comment s below, this is an INCREDIBLY motivating daily target that people feel compelled to hit. Again, you might not be in the category of people who responds to a device like this. But if you are, you are going to find yourself motivated by this system.

Results From The PEERtrainer Community Test Of The Philips DirectLife System

In this short section we are presenting some of the feedback from the users who responded to this product particularly well. We also present feedback from Philips. This back and forth will give most people a good idea if this particular “exercise motivation system” is a fit for them.

PEERtrainer User dixie130 had this to say about her experience using the system”

“I did my 100% today and I know, without question, that I will continue with meeting 100% of DL and making good choices. That’s what I am most excited about.”

DirectLife coach Jen Dowdeswell responds:

“People love getting those 6 lights on the device. A good coaching tip: When you start, expect just a slight increase in your goal activity level. Just a little bit more than you usually do. When you increase your goal level to 10, 11 and 12 the difference is quite substantial and that is when people notice it is not as easy to get to 100% anymore. That’s when the coaching really comes in. One recent participant I was working with had to walk 1.5 to 2 hours a day to hit their 100% number. This is where increasing intensity comes in, and when you learn to fit that intensity into your life. But you do this slowly.”

PEERtrainer user alim10 had this to say:

“I just love this monitor! I have to admit, I’ve been doing well increasing my activity, but I feel a little daunted that I have to be burning an extra 200 calories to reach my goal. That seems like a lot to get in, but I will get there.”

Jen responds:

“It is important to note that they targets progress gradually. The accountability comes in when you see the lights and you see how your activity maps to the lights. We designed this system to foster long term behavior change, and it is important that you chunk this down week by week. If you feel success week by week, you’ll stick with it. This is where the coach can come in and really help, and tell people that there is nothing wrong with modifying your goal up or down. The key here is that your goal is customized. Everyone is different and starts at different places. The coach can help people with small adjustments, and most importantly help set the correct expectations. One thing that we see is that many people used to be much more active when they were younger, and their definition of activity is being sweaty and red and out of breath. DirectLife Coaches show you how all the activity in your entire day adds up and this helps to change that perception. People think they need to workout so many days a week to be fit. We help them see how everything they are already doing is helping them meet their goals.

PEERtrainer user lsuepet says:

“Bottom line with this monitor, you know exactly where you stand, good or bad, and by naming your activity you can get and even more accurate picture even if it is not a pretty picture!”

Jen responds:

“This is why coming face to face with reality is so important. Most of the time people think their activity level is higher than it actually is. And people do tend to get a little defensive about this, which can be a little tough for people. But you use that to make a change, which is the whole point of this. You have immediate feedback, and you start working towards a goal based on some crystal clear reality. As you engage the system, you start to develop “intrinsic” motivation. Which means that you may not be happy about where you really are, but once you start engaging with those little lights, a whole new pattern takes over. That shift is EVERYTHING….”

PEERtrainer user alim10 adds:

“this does bring out my competitiveness too! I love that. I love the team site on the DirectLife website. When I went on it today, it said I was third, and I loved that! Not that I was third, but that I could see where I was in comparison to everyone. It’s motivating me to do more so I guess I like the competition!”

Jen responds:

“This comment touches on so many points because of competition and motivation. The desire to still hit the percentage of 100. This is enhanced by the motivation of the team. If you get involved with the team on DirectLife website it can enhance your accountability. And if you want to be completely private, you can still do that without being seen by others. Lets say we are both in this program. You could log on and see how you compared to me, but they could not logon and see how they compared to you. This is more about the results. Results are always based on the percentage of the target, not based on calories burned.

PEERtrainer user jenny64 says:

“I’m loving the coach feedback/analysis, and also being able to view my day by the hour. I can totally see the spike in activity wherever I’m running up and down the stairs to/from my 4th floor walk up.”

Jen responds:

“I love her comment about the “spike in activity.” She is looking at her data, drilling down to the hour view and she realizes that she got added activity when she ran up the stairs. It is great that you can really drill down and see how the data is represented.”

Jen’s final comments:

“I can’t express enough the relevance of those targets enough. I would encourage anyone using this program to contact your coach. As the program evolves you might enjoy an extra challenge. And if you find for some reason you are having a disconnect with your coach just call us and we will switch your coach. And if you are not having the result you want, we really want to hear from you. We can only fix problems that we know exist!”


At PEERtrainer we really work hard to find things that work to help improve peoples lives. We hope that we have presented as accurate a view as possible about who will benefit from the program and what the results will be.

The device costs around $100, and there is a monthly charge of about $12 for the coaching service and website access. Philips is offering a $20 coupon for purchase of the device if you use the coupon code “ptrain20” in checkout.  You can go to the following link to learn more and purchase:

Visit The Philips DirectLife Website To Order

When we finished up this test, we asked our members to quickly summarize their experience. Here are four of them”

The Direct Life monitor has given me the motivation I needed to get moving and has taught me to fit in extra movement during my daily routines.

“I love Direct Life. The main benefit is that it keeps me accountable to meeting the goal that is set for me everyday. It’s fun and motivating to see the lights dance when all 6 are lit and I really enjoy the team comraderie as well.”

“Direct Life device has made me more conscientious of looking for ways to be more active and the lights at the end of the day is like a reminder of how good you did and how you could have reached 100% had you done “x” thing that day. =) I LOVE IT!!!!”

“It has gotten me moving! I am completely attached to it and I WANT to make those lights light up! More activity is making me want to eat healthier too.”

Visit The Philips DirectLife Website To Order

Source of the comments, PEERtrainer Spotlight

Related DirectLife Fitness Articles:

1.  How To Create Your Own Exercise Plan That Is Doable

2.  How To Get Better Looking Legs As You Age

Important Disclaimer:

We need to disclose that Philips paid PEERtrainer for our efforts in getting this tested internally- but the opinions of the product are 100% independent. We believe we have presented a very balanced view of who will benefit from this product and what the result might be.

If you are a company with a product that you would like to test in the PEERtrainer community, please contact us, we’d love to hear from you.

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