The Cure to Sedentary Lifestyle And Obesity in US Women – Activity Tracker App
Researchers at UC San Franciso, a city with a severe homeless people and quality of life problem, have found that an app specifically created to encourage physical activity alongside an activity tracker and small bouts of physical counseling led to women engaging in regular physical exercise for three months and then continuing to partake in exercise after the app use was discontinued for a period of up to six months.
Once the required skills and awareness had seeped into the individuals during the initial intervention period, they could continue on their own, the research found. All they needed was the accelerometer.
Apps to Rescue Americans From Obesity!
Americans are notoriously inactive, with obesity being one of the biggest health issues in the country – just watch The Nutty Professor or the show Roseanne! When it comes to American women, the situation is even worse. Women irrespective of their age groups are known to be less physically active than men.
Mobile phone apps along with activity trackers have gained more and more traction. Asides from being a cost-effective way of encouraging activity, they also allow researchers to intervene remotely and monitor results. Previous studies in this field have been short with small sample sizes with the resulting data never seeing the light of day.
The Encouraging Findings From JAMA Network Open Study
In the JAMA Network open study, the researchers studied whether a mobile app designed to promote physical activity along with small sessions of personal counseling led to increased engagement in physical activities and whether said engagement level could be maintained for any period of time.
The app contained a daily enforcement message that included the seven domains of counseling. The research sample included 210 women, all of whom were physically inactive (like Homer Simpson). They were then divided into control, regular and plus groups.
The regular and plus groups used the app in tandem with the accelerometer regularly for six months and continued to use them for six months afterward.
The regular group though limited itself to tracker use only. The control group, on the other hand, used the tracker for a period of nine months without receiving any intervention.
The accelerometer was configured to gather physical exercise intensity for nine months every 60 secs every day, along with the number of steps and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). The daily missive or video was being sent between 11 am weekly and 3 pm, with the diary available from 7 pm to midnight.
If a diary entry was not created by 8:30 pm, an electronic text message reminded the recipient to document full daily steps and also the form and span of the physical work. Subjects also received an electronic notification if they failed to use the app for three successive days.
The Improvements Were Significant
With a retention frequency of 97.6 percent after nine months, the scientists discovered that the three-month interaction with the mobile app and short counseling led in a total rise of 2,060 steps per day for the standard and plus groups (equal to a mile or 20 minutes of hiking) and 18 more minutes of MVPA a day than the control group, as computed by the accelerometer.
The periodic and plus members' median weekly movements were around 1,360 greater in the next six months and registered scarcely more minutes of MVPA than controls.
All this goes on to show that the results so far have been encouraging.