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CrimsonZip Tackles Fitness and Loneliness at Harvard

CrimsonZip is a new mobile application for the university community at Harvard. It’s a social discovery app that combines exercise and social connections. Whether it is an intense work-out, an intro session to a new sport, or just a casual study break walk, the app is trying to encourage users to improve both their physical and mental health.

The app is rolling out this fall and currently aimed at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard College. The app will allow users to create and sign-up for a range of physical activities. More important than the activities themselves are who you do them with. That’s key to the psychology behind the app. It is hoped that by creating social connections, it will encourage the uptake and maintenance of healthy habits.

Richard Lee, professor of medicine and stem cell and regenerative biology, and co chair of the CrimsonZip program said:

“We’re not looking to turn everyone into long-distance runners, but if we can get 10 percent to 20 percent more activity from people — and then they stick with it — the implications for their lives will be substantial.”

Fostering social connections are just as important to living healthy lives as keeping active and physical. The app is rolling out at Harvard, but the minds behind it have their sights set on loftier goals, and will be making the software publicly available to be adopted elsewhere. Much like Facebook started in Harvard and spread, many social apps take this campus-like approach.

It’s by no means the first app targeted at combining physical and social activity. Apps like Strava, Stridekick, Stepbet, and Squaddy mix social aspects and the work-out world already. Apps that focus on a specific communities however that encourage a range of different levels of physical activity are potentially powerful and exciting. It could encourage those who would not normally, to get involved in the physical and mental benefits of exercise and friendship.

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