Smart Phone as Health Coach
What if you could have a private trainer who would help you boost your intake of fruits and veggies, get you up off the couch, and generally keep you honest regarding your intention to banish bad health habits? Researchers at Northwestern University report that this might vastly increase your odds for success – and that you would only need to connect remotely with your coach.
Bonnie Spring, PhD and her team used a mobile device that connected patients to a fitness expert. They reported their findings in the May 28th issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. According to HealthDay, Dr. Spring said their study "demonstrates the feasibility of changing multiple unhealthy diet and activity behaviors simultaneously, efficiently, and with minimal face-to-face contact by using mobile technology, remote coaching, and incentives."
The "incentives" in question were cash rewards. Participants carried their devices with them all day and sent updates to their coaches. Each update earned them some money, although the researchers didn't say how much. HealthDay reports that he team concluded "the study shows remote coaching via a mobile device that focuses on improving fruit and vegetable intake and lowering sedentary time can help patients achieve healthy behaviors that last."
In a commentary accompanying the article, William Riley, PhD of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, said the work contributes to "the empirical evidence of the value of these technologies" but cautioned that "many more research contributions such as this are needed to establish that technologically delivered multiple risk factor interventions improve outcomes."