2018 Conference Presentation
Objectives: In the last decade, many studies investigated the effectiveness of smart technologies for older people. There is, however, a lack of evidence on how smart technologies (e.g. fitness apps, fitness tracker) affect older people’s health awareness and fitness-related indicators in the long run. An active lifestyle, however, is necessary to prevent deterioration of health and frailty and thus to contribute to aging in place.
This paper aims to investigate, if CARIMO, an ICT-based fitness programme, contributed to improving home care service users’ health-related knowledge and activities over a period of 4 and 8 months. Particularly, we investigated the effectiveness of the CARIMO tablet and the fitness bracelet on health awareness, fitness literacy and quality of life.
Methods: A quasi-experiment was conducted in Italy and Austria. In total, about 100 home-care service users were included in the study for a period of 8 months. The treatment group received CARIMO, an ICT-based fitness programme on a tablet and a fitness bracelet. The screensaver displayed information on 10 fitness-related topics. The control group did not receive any treatment, but completed surveys and fitness tests. Written questionnaires were administered three times (before the intervention, after 4 months, after 8 months). The questionnaire included a set of outcome measures, capturing e.g. physical activity, health and quality of life and a set of control variables (e.g. age, sex, tech-savviness). We use information provided by the surveys before and twice during the trial. Treatment effects were derived using panel regression analysis.
Results: First results suggest that the fitness app positively affected some aspects of fitness literacy (e.g. knowledge of exercises) and self-perceived frequency of doing exercises after 4 months of treatment. Furthermore, there is indication that the fitness app also may have contributed to improve quality of life.
Conclusions: Smart technologies seem to have the potential to improve older people’s physical health, even when they experience limitations in activities of daily living. Further research is needed to investigate whether ICT-based fitness programmes also contribute to facilitate aging in place and to improve quality of life in the long run.