As technology continues to advance, there are more and more tools available to help older adults set goals, track their progress and stay motivated when it comes to exercise and physical activity. In this short blog, we will explore how apps and wearable devices can provide useful tools to engage this demographic to move more.
Whilst we (Pure Training and Development) will always advocate that working with appropriately qualified instructors is the safest and most effective way to exercise, clients need to find ways to maintain their activity outside of their attended sessions and technology can support a healthy, active lifestyle.
One of the most popular options for gaining inspiration and tracking progress is the use of fitness apps.
There are a wide variety of apps available, some of which are specifically designed for older adults. These apps can help make exercise more accessible and provide some guidance for exercising at home. Plus, they can introduce people to a range of exercises which they may not have so accessible to them i.e. Tai Chi, stretching sessions.
Apps are also used to track various aspects of health and wellbeing such as nutrition, general activity performed and even mindfulness. For example, the app “MyFitnessPal ” allows users to track their nutrition in relation to goals they have set as well as input any exercise and activity completed. These Apps can not only provide motivation but offer education and new ways of thinking about leading a healthy lifestyle.
Another option for tracking progress is the use of wearable devices, such as fitness trackers or smartwatches. These devices can monitor a variety of metrics, including steps taken, distance walked and calories burned. Some devices have the ability to track heart rate or ECG patterns. For example, “Fitbit” and “Apple Watches” have a heart rate monitor that can track heart rate continuously throughout the day. This can help older adults with hypertension or cardiovascular disease to monitor their heart rate and adjust their activity levels accordingly (some are more accurate than others).
Several wearable devices can also provide feedback on sleep patterns and take users through relaxation/breathing exercises.
Technology is always advancing and these are only some examples of the features available. However, what’s more important to understand is how they can support people to lead healthier lifestyles.
Technology can be a powerful tool for keeping people active on a regular basis. Many apps and devices include features that allow users to set reminders and notifications to remind them to move throughout the day. For example, the device “Apple watch” has a feature called “Stand Reminder” which sends a notification to the user every hour to remind them to stand up and move. ‘Fitbit’ has similar features. Some apps even allow users to connect with friends or family members for added support and accountability. For instance, the app “Charity Miles” allows users to earn money for charity while they walk, run, or bike.
Encourage new thinking and change
The various features draw attention to areas which can otherwise be forgotten during busy daily life. For example:
- Notifications which remind people to spend 5 minutes performing relaxation exercises help to manage daily stress
- Notifications that tell you that you’ve been sitting for too long encourage more conscious forms of movement being embedded in the day
- Inputting nutritional data will help educate on healthier choices
- Data about sleep length or depth can encourage healthier habits before bed
Another way technology can help to motivate older adults is by providing them with a sense of accomplishment. For example, some apps and devices offer rewards for meeting activity goals, such as virtual badges or other incentives.
As mentioned above, technology can also be used to provide older adults with access to a range of different types of exercise, expert advice and guidance.For example, some apps and devices offer virtual coaching and personalised workout plans. This can be especially beneficial for older adults who may not have access to in-person training or who prefer the convenience of working out at home. Platforms such as Zoom allow people to connect with appropriately qualified, and potentially local, exercise professionals who can support them remotely.
However, it’s important to remember that technology is not a one-size-fits-all solution and not all apps and devices are appropriate to everyone. Some older adults may not be comfortable with technology or may have cognitive or physical limitations that prevent them from using certain apps or devices. In these cases, it may be more appropriate to recommend other forms of exercise.
Older adults should consult with a healthcare professional if they are living with any chronic health conditions which would impact their ability to be active safely.
Overall, technology can be a valuable tool for older adults when it comes to setting goals, tracking progress and staying motivated. Technology can help supplement the services and local provisions available or support people who are unable to access local services. To help people engage in regular activity, it may be worthwhile having conversations around how technology can benefit them.
Here are a few examples of Apps and wearable devices:
Fitbit: A popular wearable device that tracks steps, distance, calories burned, and active minutes. It also tracks heart rate, sleep patterns, and offers guided breathing sessions. Fitbit has an easy-to-use interface and offers challenges and social support features.
Apple Watch: A smartwatch that offers similar features to Fitbit but with more advanced health tracking capabilities such as ECG, fall detection, and noise level monitoring. It also offers various workouts tracking options and provides personalised coaching.
MyFitnessPal: A popular app that tracks exercise, nutrition, and weight. It allows users to log their meals and offers personalised calorie and macronutrient goals. It also offers various workout tracking options and syncs with other fitness apps and devices.
Strava: A social fitness app that allows users to track their various forms of activity. It offers various challenges and community features, allowing users to connect with others and compare their performance.
MapMyWalk: An app that uses GPS to track walks, hikes, and runs. It offers detailed route maps, elevation data, and pace tracking. It also provides personalised coaching and nutrition tips.
Pacer: A simple app that tracks steps, distance, and calories burned. It also offers daily and weekly progress reports and personalised goal setting.
Workout for Older Adults: An app that offers exercises that can be completed in your home. It’s suitable for all ability levels and are low impact. It also provides trackers and reminders to help stay on track.
FitOn: An app that offers a variety of free workout videos for all fitness levels. It includes categories such as yoga, strength training, and cardio, and allows users to customise their workout plans.
DailyBurn: An app that provides personalised workout plans based on the user’s fitness goals and fitness level. It also includes access to hundreds of workout videos and allows users to track their progress.
Nike Training Club: An app that offers a variety of workouts, including yoga, strength training, and cardio. It includes personalised training plans and offers guidance from professional trainers.
SilverSneakers GO: An app that offers a variety of workouts specifically designed for older adults. It includes options for low-impact exercises and offers personalised workout plans.
Charity Miles: An app that allows users to earn money for charity while they walk, run, or bike.
These apps offer different features and cater to different fitness levels, so it’s important to find the one that best fits the user’s needs and preferences.