Prescribe apps to boost patients' physical activity by 22%, GPs told

A smartphone app that promotes exercise can increase physical activity in patients when paired with clear daily targets and advice, research suggests.

Using a pedometer can encourage more physical activity (Photo: iStock)
Using a pedometer can encourage more physical activity (Photo: iStock)

The study by the National University of Ireland found that patients who were prescribed a pedometer app and given daily step-count targets walked an average of 22% more steps a day after eight weeks on the programme.

The authors said the results suggested a potentially important role for the use of apps in driving healthy behavioural change.

Patients in the study group used the Accupedo-Pro Pedometer app to set a target of 10,000 steps a day and track progress. They were given detailed instructions on how to use the app’s features to achieve this.

A control group, while still given access to the app, were given no instructions and less-defined targets, such as walk for an extra 30 minutes a day.

After the eight-week trial period, patients in the study group were walking over a thousand (1,029) more steps than they had been at the beginning, a 22% increase. Those in the control group failed to show any improvement.

Apps used to motivate patients

The app recorded patients’ daily step count and provided them with various statistics, such as number of calories burnt and achievements earned.

The study authors said the app was chosen due to its ability to motivate, offer realistic goals and provide regular feedback.

They said: ‘It has been suggested that significant improvements in public health in the future are more likely to come from behavioural change, rather than from technological or scientific innovation.

‘The results of this current study would suggest that novel technologies, such as mobile devices and related smartphone apps, may become an important driver for the behavioural-change process.’

Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases.

A total of 77 patients from three primary care centres in North Clare, Ireland, were involved in the study.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

General practice 'finally turning a corner' after years of austerity

General practice 'finally turning a corner' after years of austerity

General practice is 'finally turning a corner' as positive developments across the...

Locum GPs penalised by 'discriminatory' NHS pension reforms

Locum GPs penalised by 'discriminatory' NHS pension reforms

Locum GPs could face significant financial losses under government plans to overhaul...

Viewpoint: Conflicting headlines are confusing patients about breast cancer risks

Viewpoint: Conflicting headlines are confusing patients about breast cancer risks

Over 40% of women do not feel they have a good understanding of the breast cancer...

NHS to step up recruitment scheme that has delivered 300 new GPs

NHS to step up recruitment scheme that has delivered 300 new GPs

Almost 300 GPs have joined the NHS workforce through the induction and refresher...

'Disappointing' that NHS needed outsiders to shake up tech approach, says Goldacre

'Disappointing' that NHS needed outsiders to shake up tech approach, says Goldacre

Babylon GP at Hand's video consultation model is among the 'most interesting challenges'...

BMA sends message of solidarity after New Zealand mosque attack

BMA sends message of solidarity after New Zealand mosque attack

The BMA has offered condolences to victims and families after attacks on two mosques...