Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hand-held Computers Prod Older Adults to Increase Exercise

Via the National Center on Aging:

Today's younger generation may reckon that "ne'er the twain shall meet" where technology and their elders are concerned. However, ongoing research by Abby King, PhD, professor of health research and policy and of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, appears to be gradually dispelling that notion.

In a study that appears in the February issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, King showed that specially programmed PDAs, or personal digital assistants, can prod middle-aged and older Americans--the most sedentary segment of the U.S. population--into increasing their physical activity levels.

This first-generation study follows on the heels of King's research report in the December issue of Health Psychology, in which she showed that automated computer calls were almost as effective as live health educators in coaxing people previously less active to get more of a spring in their step.

King and colleagues feel that developing approaches to help people increase their exercise frequency, while taking into account an individual's schedule and environment, is particularly important.

"Portable computer devices are useful because they can be carried around throughout a person's day," King said. "Such devices represent one kind of strategy for being able to provide individuals with the help and support they need, in a convenient, real-time context."

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