Every week we hear about new mobile health apps and gadgets that pair up to promote a healthier lifestyle. But as the mobile health market gets bigger, more people are questioning whether these solutions really work or whether it’s all just a big gimmick.
Well, according to new research that monitored overweight adults over a 20 week period, they can be successful when combined with the right amount of willpower too.
The study, conducted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health in the US, has found that a combination of mobile technology and remote coaching can hold promising results and make sure adults eat healthier and take part in more physical activities.
204 overweight and obese adults who were all had diets that were high in saturated fat and rarely exercised took part in the study. All of the participants received mobiles and were told how to enter information about what they got up to on a daily basis and taught how to track their eating patterns. A set of coaches then studied the information and got in touch with the participants to encourage healthy changes throughout the study.
The participants were also asked to continue to track their data over a 20 week period afterwards and financial incentives were offered to keep up with it. According to Health 24, when the study ended, all of the participants noticed striking results:
“The researchers found after 20 weeks of follow up that this group’s average daily servings of fruits and vegetables increased from 1.2 to 2.9; their average minutes per day of sedentary leisure activity dropped from 219.2 to 125.7; and the percentage of saturated fat in their daily calories went from 12 to 9.9.”
For this kind of mobile health and coaching activity to be successful you obviously need some motivation and willpower to make changes yourself (and it’s interesting participants were given financial incentives too), but the researchers concluded that mobile technology really helps deliver key health messages regularly, it’s easy to use and it doesn’t leave patients relying on pricey visits to health care providers.