Our recommendations from Enabling better health for all: the rile of digital technologies to help people move more and stay healthier for longer

In this GetaMoveOn funded project, we aim to create tools to support the development of theory-driven technology to support people who struggle with physical activity. Having previously explored how digital technology could support activity in our GetaMoveOn deep dive series: https://getamoveon.ac.uk/blog/deep-dive-series

Many people find it difficult to become physically active and turn to digital technology to help them achieve their goals. Technologies such as fitness trackers have become increasingly sophisticated. They now frequently contain functions that track your steps and can detect whether you are walking, running or cycling. However, such technologies do not incorporate behaviour change theory into the design process, so it’s not surprising that people’s use of them is often short-lived and does not lead to sustained behaviour change. Interventions that are based on behaviour change theory can be more effective. However, there are no practical guidelines on how to implement behaviour change techniques into the content of digital interventions. 

This project addressed this problem by bringing together physical activity practitioners, behaviour scientists and technology designers to develop a practical and accessible how-to-guide to enable them to translate behaviour change theory into the design and delivery of digital health interventions. Blog post: https://getamoveon.ac.uk/blog/bct  Slides: bit.ly/3ewPYRV

We ran online workshops bringing together expertise from physical activity, behaviour science and interaction design, to better understand how these three disciplines can work together to help overcome barriers to physical activity. You can read about our reflections on running these workshops remotely here: https://getamoveon.ac.uk/blog/online-workshops 

This work is done in collaboration with Paulina Bondaronek, Marion Lean 

In addition, I conducted research to explore how people stayed active during the pandemic. Staying Active While Staying Home: The Use of Physical Activity Technologies During Life Disruptions with@AnnaCox_ & @DrAnnaRudnicka

In this paper, we surveyed people over 5 weeks on their use of physical activity tech during lockdown and how people’s use and motivations changed during the pandemic. We found that certain technologies helped people stay connected and informed, such as virtual & video coaching

However, there were also a number of barriers people identified to both using the technology and staying active during such a significant disruption. We highlight a few areas that we should focus on the help make our use of digital technology more resilient to life disruptions!