Seniors that exercise more frequently and are not living with a chronic condition are more likely to be long term activity tracker users, according to a recent study published in Telemedicine and e-Health.
The study also found that women were more likely to be long term wearable activity tracker [WAT] users than men, and that individuals with a higher level of education were also more likely to use the trackers longterm than those with a lower level.
“Having chronic conditions is associated with decreased odds of long-term use of WAT. How to design WATs for older adults who have chronic conditions deserves further investigation, especially given that people with chronic conditions could potentially benefit the most from long-term WAT use,” authors of the study wrote. “Moreover, the present study showed that respondents who exercise more are more likely to maintain WAT use. WAT use could be more satisfying to those who are active and can see immediate feedbacks.”
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Researchers discovered that 64% of long-term users (individuals who used the wearable for > 6 months) were women, compared to 43% of short term users (those using the tech for < 6 months). Long-term wearers also tended to have higher education levels with 59% of long term users possessing a bachelors degree or higher.
There was also a difference in how frequently each group exercised. Participants were asked to rate themselves on a scale of 0 to 4 based on how much they exercises. Researchers indicated that a 0 meant participants didn’t exercise at all, and a 4 meant they worked out five or more times a week. Long-term users rated themselves an average of 2.44 and short term users had an average score of 1.41.
Individuals with chronic care conditions were also less likely to use the trackers for longer than 6 months. Thirty-eight percent of long-term users had a chronic condition, compared to 69% of short term users.
Researchers surveyed a total of 314 participants who were either using a wearable or who had used a wearable at some point in the past.
Because the study was looking at short and long term users, researchers excluded participants that started using wearables less than six months before and were still using the technology. In the end researchers used data from 214 participants, which included 163 long-term users and 51 short-term users.
Scores of studies have examined seniors' use of wearable trackers. A 2015 survey study from AARP found that 77% of seniors reported that wearables could be useful for them.
Wearable giants like Fitbit and Apple are also looking at seniors as a core part of their business model. In October, MobiHealthNews sat down with Fitbit’s VP of Health Solutions and discussed the company’s future, which includes more moves in the Medicare space. In 2018 Apple announced that its Series 4 watch would have a fall detection feature, automatically enabled for seniors.
“Understanding long-term use of WATs among older adults is important given that this technology is prone to be abandoned quickly after initial adoption and such abandonment negates its potential in supporting long-term health behavior change,” authors wrote in the study. “Findings of this study will inform innovative WAT designs that afford long-term use and offer helpful strategies for future interventions using WATs among older adults.”