Facebook app helps adults get physical

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Physical inactivity is a global pandemic and increases the risk of developing and dying prematurely, from cardiovascular disease.

Over half of Australian adults do not meet the guideline of 30 minutes a day of physical activity and fail to achieve the substantial cardiovascular health benefits of physical activity.

A Heart Foundation researcher has been investigating whether an App could encourage people to get out of their chairs and get moving.

Dr Carol Maher developed a Facebook app called Active Team or A-Team, which allows people to compete with their friends in a 50-day physical activity challenge.

In her research trial, people using the app increased their weekly physical activity by over 2 hours.

Men were found to be the heaviest users of gamification features of the app, suggesting that gamification is a promising method for engaging men (who are traditionally harder to reach with public health interventions).

Dr Maher’s research won the 2015 Sports Medicine Australia Best New Investigator award.

She is now developing a new version of the App for iPhone and Android platforms which she will evaluate in a major research trial throughout 2017, with a plan to release the app into the market by 2018.

Her research capitalises on the enormous reach and engagement of Facebook, to deliver an innovative physical activity intervention. It is a low-cost way of delivering a physical activity promotion program to a large number of people.  

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