Just-in-Time Prompts for Running, Walking, and Performing Strength Exercises in the Built Environment: 4-Week Randomized Feasibility Study

Karlijn Sporrel, Shihan Wang, Dick D F Ettema, Nicky Nibbeling, Ben J A Krose, Marije Deutekom, Rémi D D de Boer, Monique Simons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Background: App-based mobile health exercise interventions can motivate individuals to engage in more physical activity (PA). According to the Fogg Behavior Model, it is important that the individual receive prompts at the right time to be successfully persuaded into PA. These are referred to as just-in-time (JIT) interventions. The Playful Active Urban Living (PAUL) app is among the first to include 2 types of JIT prompts: JIT adaptive reminder messages to initiate a run or walk and JIT strength exercise prompts during a walk or run (containing location-based instruction videos). This paper reports on the feasibility of the PAUL app and its JIT prompts. Objective: The main objective of this study was to examine user experience, app engagement, and users' perceptions and opinions regarding the PAUL app and its JIT prompts and to explore changes in the PA behavior, intrinsic motivation, and the perceived capability of the PA behavior of the participants. Methods: In total, 2 versions of the closed-beta version of the PAUL app were evaluated: a basic version (Basic PAUL) and a JIT adaptive version (Smart PAUL). Both apps send JIT exercise prompts, but the versions differ in that the Smart PAUL app sends JIT adaptive reminder messages to initiate running or walking behavior, whereas the Basic PAUL app sends reminder messages at randomized times. A total of 23 participants were randomized into 1 of the 2 intervention arms. PA behavior (accelerometer-measured), intrinsic motivation, and the perceived capability of PA behavior were measured before and after the intervention. After the intervention, participants were also asked to complete a questionnaire on user experience, and they were invited for an exit interview to assess user perceptions and opinions of the app in depth. Results: No differences in PA behavior were observed (Z=−1.433; P = .08), but intrinsic motivation for running and walking and for performing strength exercises significantly increased (Z=−3.342; P < .001 and Z=−1.821; P = .04, respectively). Furthermore, participants increased their perceived capability to perform strength exercises (Z=2.231; P = .01) but not to walk or run (Z=−1.221; P = .12). The interviews indicated that the participants were enthusiastic about the strength exercise prompts. These were perceived as personal, fun, and relevant to their health. The reminders were perceived as important initiators for PA, but participants from both app groups explained that the reminder messages were often not sent at times they could exercise. Although the participants were enthusiastic about the functionalities of the app, technical issues resulted in a low user experience. Conclusions: The preliminary findings suggest that the PAUL apps are promising and innovative interventions for promoting PA. Users perceived the strength exercise prompts as a valuable addition to exercise apps. However, to be a feasible intervention, the app must be more stable.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere35268
Pages (from-to)1-18
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Volume6
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022

Keywords

  • Fogg Behavior Model
  • context-based
  • engagement
  • exercise application
  • feasibility study
  • just-in-time interventions
  • mHealth
  • mobile health
  • mobile phone
  • physical activity
  • prompts
  • reminders
  • user experience

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