Digital Technologies for Physical Activity

Digital technology is becoming more common in interventions targeting physical activity (PA). This paper reviews the literature to determine if these technologies can influence PA behaviour changes, and it identifies some factors that may affect these changes.

During the COVID-19 pandemic people’s access to traditional physical activity options and settings were limited, which is why it was crucial that they were able to keep exercising at home. This meant that a lot of people relied on digital platforms to help or guide their exercise. These platforms comprised online and mobile applications (eg streaming services for exercising) as well as fitness subscription programs facilitated by app (eg Activate and centr) as well as fitness or sport apps that offer coaching to help athletes improve their performance in specific actions and abilities (eg Zwift FullGaz Rouvy); pedometers, and heart rate monitors.

In general more women than men used these digital platforms and this could reflect their increased reliance on self-monitoring and internal accountability in order to reach their fitness goals as well as safety concerns about exercising outdoors and after dark, or fear of being judged by others. However most of the people who accessed these platforms digital technologies for physical activity also attended instructor-led physical activity classes or training in person.

Unadjusted logistic regression models were studied to discover associations between the characteristics of the sample, such as gender, age, English-speaking household job status, parental responsibilities for children, as well MVPA, MSE, and combined physical guidelines for exercise adhering to. Multilevel-adjusted logistic regression models were also used to detect potential interplay effects or mediator effects.

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