Science and Technology

Study finds exercise apps lack adaptation for older users


Physical exercise plays a crucial role in healthy ageing, but are exercise apps meeting the needs of older adults?

Researchers led by physiotherapist Luis Soto from Parc Sanitari Pere Virgili health complex, collaborating with digital health experts from Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), explored this question by examining exercise apps available in leading app stores. Their goal was to assess the suitability of these apps for prescribing exercise online and to evaluate their compatibility with older adults’ requirements.

Their findings, published in the journal Age and Ageing, shed light on the gap between available exercise apps and the needs of older users.

Soto emphasised the importance of tailoring exercise prescriptions to factors like intensity, volume, frequency, and progression based on scientific evidence. While any form of exercise is beneficial, optimising exercise routines is essential for older adults’ well-being.

Dr Marco Inzitari, Director of Integrated Care and Research at Parc Sanitari Pere Virgili and a researcher at UOC, highlighted the novelty of the study. Unlike traditional reviews using scientific databases, this study examined apps available in app marketplaces, providing insights into apps commonly used by the public.

The analysis focused on 15 exercise apps meeting specific criteria, including popularity, relevance to older adults, recent updates, and language accessibility. However, none of these apps adequately addressed users’ cognitive needs, crucial for older adults with varying tech skills.

The study underscores the importance of developing apps that are user-friendly and tailored to older adults’ requirements. Involving older adults in the app development process can ensure simplicity, intuitiveness, and relevance to their needs.

While technology holds the potential to promote exercise among older adults, it must undergo both quantitative and qualitative evaluation. The researchers stressed the need for app developers to incorporate scientific evidence and user feedback to create effective and user-friendly exercise apps.

This article was also published in Comms Room.

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