Older adults working out

Mobile technology increasing physical activity among senior cancer survivors

July 23, 2015

The benefit of regular physical activity in cancer survivorship is well documented, though few older cancer survivors actually are exercising. Mobile technology may hold the key to increasing physical activity among older adults according to a new study by researchers at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health.

The results of a pilot test of iCanFit, a mobile-enabled, web application among cancer survivors between the ages of 60-78 years of age showed improvement in the quality of life and engagement in regular physical activity. Findings of the study led by Yan Alicia Hong, Ph.D., associate professor at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, are published in the latest edition of the JMIR Cancer.

Participants completed a baseline survey and then began use of the iCanFit interactive website, where they could set physical activity goals, receive personalized feedback, and track progress. In a follow-up survey 2-3 months later, study participants indicated a general affinity towards the key function “Goals” in the program, which motivated continued activity. They also provided suggestions to further improve the application including adding a reminder functionality and easier or alternative ways of entering activities.

“Mobile tools have been widely used by younger individuals, but few such programs have been designed specifically for seniors, especially older cancer survivors,” Hong said. “iCanFit is one such initiatives and we are working on more mHealth projects benefiting older adults.”

Additional Texas A&M researchers were Daniel Goldberg, Ph.D., Marcia Ory, Ph.D., Samuel Towne, Jr., Ph.D., Debra Kellstedt, M.P.H., Suojin Wang, Ph.D., and Samuel Forjuoh, M.D., Dr.PH of Baylor Scott and White.

— Rae Lynn Mitchell

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