JMIR Form Res. 2022 Sep 19;6(9):e36805. doi: 10.2196/36805.
BACKGROUND: To empower healthy aging, digital solutions embed multiple modules for physical activity, cognitive health promotion, and social engagement. Integrating new empowering technologies such as digital exercise monitoring requires assessment measures and analysis procedures, considering variable compliance of users with different modules.
OBJECTIVE: This study aims to assess the influence of a tablet-based and a feedback system-based exercise module on balance and leg strength by considering use adherence instead of the use of the entire multimodular system.
METHODS: In the prospective cohort study within the fit4AAL project, 83 users (n=67, 81% women; n=16, 19% men; mean age 66.2, SD 2.3 years) used the 2 digital exercise modules of a multimodular physical activity promotion system for >18 weeks. A data-driven clustering method based on the average use frequency of the exercise modules determined the number of user types that met the World Health Organization-recommended training frequency of at least twice per week. On the basis of this use adherence, statistical analysis was performed with features of functional performance tests (unipedal stance, 30-second chair rise, Y-balance, and hurdle step tests). The tests were conducted 6 months before the intervention, immediately before the intervention, and after the intervention, comparing the baseline phase with the 3 feedback use groups of the study (using only the tablet, the tablet and the feedback system, or only the feedback system).
RESULTS: Of the 83 users, 43 (52%) met the World Health Organization-recommended frequency of muscle-strengthening activities. Overall, the feedback use groups achieved, on average, more chair rises in 30 seconds than the baseline group (P=.01; moderate effect size of 0.07). Of the 43 users, 26 (60%) additionally used the feedback system-based exercise module. They improved in balance compared with the users using either the tablet or the feedback system (P=.02). In addition, they improved their leg strength within the group (P=.04) and compared with the baseline (P=.01).
CONCLUSIONS: The additional use of a feedback system showed a tendency to positively maintain and influence the already exceptionally high functional performance of older adults. Considering use adherence in future multimodular system studies is crucial to assess the influence of single and combined use of exercise modules on functional performance.