Digital Health Interventions Increase Physical Activity Among Adults 55 Years and Older

An older woman exercises with the help of a mobile phone.The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) recommends digital health interventions for adults aged 55 years and older to increase physical activity. Compared to interventions without a digital health intervention or usual care, digital health interventions increased physical activity by 28%.

A team of specialists in systematic review methods and in physical activity research, practice, and policy assessed evidence from 20 studies identified in the following published review:

Muellmann S, Forberger S, Mollers T, Broring E, Zeeb H, Pischke CR. Effectiveness of eHealth interventions for the promotion of physical activity in older adults: a systematic review. Preventive Medicine 2018;108:93-110.

Digital health interventions deliver tailored guidance and support through web-based interactive content (e.g., virtual coaching); telephone sessions with intervention providers or automated voice messages and reminders, text messages and reminders; or apps with goal-setting, activity tracking, and reminder functions. Some also include print materials or feedback devices (e.g., pedometers, accelerometers).

Adults who are physically active are healthier, feel better, and are less likely to develop many chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and several types of cancer than are adults who are inactive. Adults gain most of these health benefits when they do the equivalent of 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week. Adults gain additional health benefits with even more physical activity Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (2nd Edition).

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