A mobile phone application designed to boost physical activity for inactive women has shown promise in a trial.
The study, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, shows that the mobile app created for women did help when combined with an activity tracker and personal counselling.
“We showed that if you design an activity app using an evidence-based approach, it will be more effective,” said study lead author Yoshimi Fukuoka, Professor at the University of California in the US.
“Our findings could go a long way to get more people to move, particularly women,” Fukuoka said.
The study, which lasted nine months, was called the mobile phone based physical activity education (mPED) trial.
The app, which was developed exclusively for the study and is not commercially available, had three main functions, including a pre-programmed interactive daily message or video that reinforced what was learned during a beginning counselling session, and a daily activity diary to record progress.
The research team designed their app specifically for physically inactive women, incorporating behavioural change strategies known to work well for this group, such as personalised goal setting, self-monitoring, social support and feedback.
The app had three main functions, including a pre-programmed interactive daily message or video that reinforced what was learned during a beginning counselling session, and a daily activity diary to record progress.
The trial involved 210 physically inactive women, aged 25 and 65.
The app increased the participants’ activity goals by 20 percent each week to 10,000 steps daily.
These findings showed that the women were able to sustain an impressive level of activity above their starting point with the help of the app.