Social media app motivates users to exercise for longer

September 5, 2013, University of South Australia
Social media app motivates users to exercise for longer

A Facebook app aimed at encouraging exercise through peer group support and the use of pedometers has found participants in a pilot trial increase their physical activity by almost three hours a week.

The positive result of the UniSA trial will now see two apps being launched this month on Facebook to encourage mothers of young children, and adults in general, to take more steps in their daily routine.

Project leader, health scientist and recent Tall Poppy award recipient Dr Carol Maher (pictured below), and PhD student Jocelyn Kernot are now seeking recruits to trial the new apps, to determine the extent to which promotes healthy living.

Participants who register to use the apps will each receive a and will be encouraged to send invitations to friends to create small teams. Within the team, individuals will use pedometers and try to reach a target of 10,000 steps a day for a period of 50 days, recording their daily counts on the app.

Dr Maher described the apps, developed with Adelaide-based software development company, Portal Australia, as virtually unique in their ability to motivate people to exercise through the use social media, whilst catering to the individual circumstances of each participant's daily routine.

"Facebook has revolutionised the way people communicate and the site has more than 11 million Australians as members. To develop a program that can harness that influence and make a real difference to improving peoples' health is what we are aiming to achieve," Dr Maher said.

"The creation of teams to generate support and friendly rivalry and the ability to send and receive gifts as well as messages of encouragement – related to step performance, through using the app on the site, are powerful motivators encouraging .

"The results of the pilot trial saw participants increase their amount of exercise by 177 minutes each week, and the feedback to this was very positive."

Rachel Van Der Linden, who took part in the pilot trial, said the app and pedometer were great ways for new mums to keep fit.

"As a mum of a young child I found it difficult to exercise and with members of the mother's group we have all tried to do various things to encourage us to exercise more," she says.

"Using the app and recording our step count added a degree of friendly competition; at least you didn't want to be the mum who had recorded the least number of steps in a week, so it was motivating.

"It was also the subject of a lot of our conversations and within that peer group of other mums, it added focus; using the app made me want to exercise more and that made it easier to exercise, knowing that my performance would be noticed by others and that what I was achieving would be recognised.

"It probably doubled the amount of I did in a week compared to what I was doing previously".

Dr Maher is now seeking 240 volunteers to take part in a new trial, using the new apps. One of the apps "Mums Step It Up" is designed to be used by mothers of babies under 12 months, while the Active Team app is for all adults.

Interested volunteers will also be able to find the apps within Facebook by typing "unisa active team" or "mums step it up" into the Facebook search bar.

Explore further: Facebook opening online center for social "apps"

Related Stories

Facebook opening online center for social "apps"

May 10, 2012
Facebook on Wednesday said it is opening an App Center for mini-programs that plug offerings such as Pinterest or Draw Something into the leading social network.

Diabetes apps among top 10 doctors recommend to patients

August 31, 2013
(HealthDay)—Apps for managing diabetes and calculating the risk of cardiovascular disease are among the top 10 apps doctors recommend to their patients, according to researchers at Medical Economics.

Smart app gives tips for an active lifestyle

March 29, 2013
Getting enough exercise is a big challenge for a lot of people. The solution: an app that provides personal activity tips at the right times. That concludes Yuzhong Lin in her doctoral research at Eindhoven University of ...

Health apps abound, but usage low, study shows

January 28, 2013
US consumers are being offered a vast range of smartphone apps to track or manage health, but only a small number of people are using them, according to a survey.

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.