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What type of smartphone apps are effective for promoting healthy habits among older adults?

As previously reported here, Stanford researcher Abby King, PhD, and colleagues have been testing different smartphone apps to determine what type of framework best promotes exercise and eating healthy among older adults.

All three apps in her study used the accelerometer in participants' smartphone and a custom program to monitor how active individuals were during the day. The analytic version used goal-setting and feedback to motivate users. The social comparison design utilized support and competition among a group to encourage participants to meet goals. And the third one, the game-style app, promoted attachment to an avatar, a digital bird, that thrived or languished depending on the healthy habits of its "owner."

In a talk at last fall's Stanford Medicine X conference, King shared results from her research and discussed which types of apps were most effective in improving healthy behaviors. The video, which was just posted online, offers some interesting evidence on how mobile device apps can change users' behavior quicker than traditional methods.

Previously: Computer-generated phone calls shown to help inactive adults get – and keep – moving, Eat a carrot and exercise – or your iBird diesResearch shows remote weight loss interventions equally effective as face-to-face coaching programs and Monitoring patient wellness from a distance

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