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

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Background: 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. Objective: The aim of this study was to identify theory-based components of a blended intervention that supports older adults to exercise at home. Methods: 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. Results: 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. Conclusions: 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
Article numbere117
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


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