Translating behavior change principles into a blended exercise intervention for older adults: design study

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Physical activity can prevent or delay age-related impairments and prolong the ability of older adults to live independently. Community-based programs typically offer classes where older adults can exercise only once a week under the guidance of an instructor. The health benefits of such programs vary. Exercise frequency and the duration of the program play a key role in realizing effectiveness. An auxiliary home-based exercise program can provide older adults the opportunity to exercise more regularly over a prolonged period of time in the convenience of their own homes. Furthermore, mobile electronic devices can be used to motivate and remotely guide older adults to exercise in a safe manner. Such a blended intervention, where technology is combined with personal guidance, needs to incorporate behavior change principles to ensure effectiveness.

The aim of this study was to identify theory-based components of a blended intervention that supports older adults to exercise at home.

The Medical Research Council framework was used to develop the blended intervention. Insights from focus group, expert panels, and literature were combined into leading design considerations.

A client-server system had been developed that combined a tablet app with a database in the cloud and a Web-based dashboard that can be used by a personal coach to remotely monitor and guide older adults. The app contains several components that facilitate behavior change—an interactive module for goal setting, the ability to draw up a personal training schedule from a library containing over 50 exercise videos, progress monitoring, and possibilities to receive remote feedback and guidance of a personal coach.

An evidence-based blended intervention was designed to promote physical activity among older adults. The underlying design choices were underpinned by behavior change techniques that are rooted in self-regulation. Key components of the tablet-supported intervention were a tailored program that accommodates individual needs, demonstrations of functional exercises, monitoring, and remote feedback. The blended approach combines the convenience of a home-based exercise program for older adults with the strengths of mobile health and personal guidance.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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