Mobile technology can help people improve their health behaviors
According to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association, published in the association’s journal Traffic.
The new statement reviewed the small number of published, peer-reviewed studies on the effectiveness of mobile health (mHealth) technologies for managing weight, increasing physical activity, quitting smoking and controlling hypertension. blood pressure, hypercholesterolemia and diabetes.
“Just because mobile health technologies haven’t been fully researched doesn’t mean they aren’t effective. Self-monitoring is one of the basic strategies for modifying cardiovascular health behaviors. If mobile health technology, such as a smartphone app for self-monitoring of diet, weight, or physical activity, helps you improve your behavior, then stick with it,” said Lora E. Burke , Ph.D., MPH, senior author of the statement and professor of nursing and epidemiology at the University. of Pittsburgh.
Currently, one in five American adults uses technology to track health data and the most popular health apps downloaded are related to exercise, step counting or heart rate.
The mHealth technologies discussed in the statement align with the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 goals, which are seven simple ways to improve your heart health: eat better, be more active, manage weight, avoid tobacco smoke, reduce blood sugar, and control both cholesterol and blood pressure. Here are some of the conclusions of the statement:
Weight management –People who include mobile technology as part of a comprehensive weight loss lifestyle program have been more successful at losing weight in the short term than those who have tried to lose weight on their own, but there is no published data indicating whether participants maintained their weight loss beyond 12 months. When considering an mHealth weight loss program, healthcare professionals should look for one that has many of the same elements as successful individualized programs administered by healthcare professionals, which emphasize a low-calorie diet. , physical activity, self-monitoring or recording food intake and physical activity in a paper or digital diary, personalized feedback and social support.
Physical activity – While the majority of studies show that using an online program boosts physical activity more than not having a program, there hasn’t been enough research to show whether the devices fitness tracker wearables actually help you move more.
Quit Smoking – Mobile phone apps using text messaging to help quit smoking can almost double your chances of quitting, but about 90% of people who use these apps fail to quit after six months . Mobile health apps used in combination with a traditional smoking cessation program can help smokers kick the habit.
Currently, there is little to no research on US-based mHealth technology on diabetes, blood pressure, or cholesterol management.
The authors of the statement reviewed randomized clinical trials and mHealth meta-analyses from the last decade. Most studies of mHealth technology have been short-term and small in size.
“Still, don’t discount the possibility that these devices and apps can help you be heart healthy,” Burke said.
To choose a mobile health technology that works for you, ask your health care provider, fitness instructor, dietitian or similar expert to help you find an effective program, she added.
The statement also encouraged researchers to take up the challenge of generating the necessary evidence regarding the effectiveness of these new technologies and how best to adopt them in clinical practice to promote better patient health.