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Evidence Summary

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Electronic health interventions can increase physical activity levels among older adults

Muellmann S, Forberger S, Mollers T, et al.  Effectiveness of eHealth interventions for the promotion of physical activity in older adults: A systematic review  Preventive Medicine. 2018; 108: 93-110.

Review question

      Do electronic health interventions increase the physical activity levels in adults aged 55 years or older when compared to non-electronic interventions?

Background

      Regular physical activity is important for healthy aging, however, only a minority of older adults currently incorporate physical activity into their lives.

      Currently, physical activity is promoted through printed materials or in-person interactions, however these approaches may not reach everyone.

       Electronic health interventions that use the internet and mobile technologies are a promising alternative to promote physical activity in older adults, particularly among those who are not exposed to printed materials or supported through in-person interactions.

How the review was done

      A detailed search of a number of electronic databases for studies published up to and including 2017 was conducted. Studies that focused on electronic health interventions to promote physical activity in older adults were included in the review.

      A total of 84 studies were identified in searches, and 20 were included in the review after assessments for eligibility.

      This review was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

What the researchers found

      The review found that web-based health interventions were generally effective in increasing physical activity levels in older adults when compared to non-electronic interventions.

      For telephone-based interventions, research was inconclusive, but showed no difference in physical activity levels when compared to non-electronic interventions.

      Electronic health interventions delivered by mobile phone through text messages showed a significant increase in physical activity levels when compared to non-electronic interventions.

Conclusion

      This review found evidence to suggest that electronic health interventions, such as those that are web-based or delivered through mobile text messages, can increase physical activity levels in adults aged 55 years or older. However, more research is required to investigate the long-term effects of these interventions.




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