The impact of mHealth interventions on physical activity, sedentary behavior and sleep of older adults

29 Oct 2019

As part of the mHealth Active project, Steriani Elavsky, Lenka Knapová, Adam Klocek and David Šmahel reviewed 52 studies examining interventions utilizing mobile technologies to alter physical activity, sedentary behavior and sleep among among adults aged 50 years and older. They published this systematic review in the prestigious Journal of Aging and Physical Activity. The mHealth Active project focuses on examining the use of digital technologies to promote health behavior among older adults.

The review show that the most common form of intervention program way via SMS (mostly combined with other forms - e.g. websites) followed by interventions using mobile applications. Though intervention programs were generally quite short - the average duration was 3.5 months (range: 2 weeks - 12 months) - they often had positive impact on different aspects of participants' lifestyle. Out of 50 studies that focused on physical activity, 30 studies showed that participation in programs utilizing mobile technologies increased participants' physical activity. Similarly, 9 out of 14 studies reported that mHealth interventions reduced sedentary behavior. Only 5 studies focused on sleep - 2 of them reported positive impact on participants' sleep.

To sum up, intervention programs utilizing mobile technologies have the potential to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior among older adults. However, authors of the review note that we need more methodologically sound studies focused on both healthy population of older adults as well as specific populations of older adults who might benefit from such programs the most.

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