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Stockwell S, Schofield P, Fisher A, Firth J, Jackson S, Stubbs B, Smith L. Digital behavior change interventions to promote physical activity and/or reduce sedentary behavior in older adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis Experimental Gerontology. 2019.
• How effective are digital behaviour change interventions in increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviour among older adults?
• Although people today are living longer than their predecessors, quality of life and health are not guaranteed as individuals reach older age.
• Physical activity and sedentary behaviour are known to influence individuals’ likelihood of developing non-communicable diseases and experiencing healthy ageing, but most older adults remain insufficiently active.
• Digital behaviour change interventions (DBCI) have the potential to reach many older adults, promoting physical activity and reducing sedentary time.
• The aim of this review is to examine the effectiveness of DBCI interventions in increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviour among older adults.
• Review authors conducted a detailed search of three research databases in March of 2018.
• Search terms were generally related to physical activity, sedentary behaviour, older adults, and DBCI.
• Articles were eligible for inclusion if they were written in English and published in an electronic journal article.
• A total of 1,990 articles were retrieved from the initial search, of which 22 were included in this review.
• This research was funded by the Positive Ageing Research Institute at Anglia Ruskin University in England. No conflicts of interest were declared.
• Of the included studies, 12 were from North America, one was from Australia, one was from New Zealand, one was from Malaysia, and only three were from Europe.
• Interventions included group-based education and social support, individualized physical activity prescriptions, use of activity monitors, tables with conversational agents, internet-based physical activity programs, exercise groups, smartphone apps, gaming consoles, SMS text messages, virtual reality programs, and telephone coaching.
• The most commonly employed behavioural change techniques were goal setting, problem solving, feedback on behaviour, self-monitoring of behaviour, social support, instruction on how to perform a behaviour, demonstration of the behaviour, and behavioural practice.
• The review suggested that digital behaviour change interventions increased total physical activity of older adults overall. Specifically, they increased moderate-to-vigorous physical activity by 52min/week and reduced sedentary time by 58 min/day. Reductions in systolic blood pressure and improvements in physical functioning were also observed.
• Researchers found that DBCI may increase physical activity and physical functioning and reduce sedentary time and systolic blood pressure in older adults.
• However, more high-quality studies are required to confirm these results.