Sunday, November 13, 2016

Exercise should be a daily habit

Copenhagen: Making exercise a good habit in a busy everyday life can be difficult. But what is easiest: going for a run in your free time or riding your bike to work? The team behind the GO-ACTIWE research project has decided to answer that question. The goal is to help authorities and healthcare workers become better at instructing citizens and patients on daily exercise.

In order to learn whether transport exercise has the same effect as free time exercise a group of overweight persons are divided into three subgroups, who will perform different kinds of exercise for a six-month period: The first group will ride their bike to work, the second group will perform light exercise, and the third group will perform heavy exercise. The participants will meet with Professor of Health Promoting Physical Activity at the University of Copenhagen Bente Stallknecht for regular health checks, while Associate Professor of Cognitive Systems at the Technical University of Denmark Jakob Eg Larsen will collect GPS data via the participants’ smartphone, enabling him to monitor the extent of their exercise. This coupling of the technical and clinical makes it possible to thoroughly map the overweight participants’ exercise habits and the effects of riding their bike to work or exercising in their free time, says Bente Stallknecht.
‘If we focussed exclusively on the medical aspects, we would only be able to say something about the participants’ condition at the control visits. However, the technology makes it possible to monitor the participants in between visits as well. In addition, the team includes an ethnologist who through qualitative interviews and observations can explore in more detail any barriers and motivation factors concerning exercise found among the participants’, says Bente Stallknecht.

More Precise Measurements

The health-related objective of the project is to determine how the authorities and healthcare system can become better at helping citizens and patients make exercise a part of their everyday lives. But there is also a more technical aspect, says Jakob Eg Larsen.

‘Smartphone are increasingly used to measure physical activity, but we do not know how precise these measurements are. We can compare the results of the regular control visits to the data we have collected via the participants’ smartphones. This will show us how reliable the data is and, thus, whether and how we can optimise systems for measuring physical activity’, he says.

By combining health science, IT and the humanities, the project will hopefully be able to help Danes become better at making exercise a part of their everyday lives – and enable us to measure it more accurately. The project is conducted under the auspices of CACHET (Copenhagen Center for Health Technology) and the 2016 project Governing Obesity.