Fitbit and MyFitnessPal: Never Too Late to be in Shape

Introduction of Products

It is a well-known stereotype that older adults have either decreased their amount of weekly fitness or have completely cut out physical exercise with aging. Although this is a common stereotype, it is not far from the truth. Around 68% of adults between the ages of 65 through 90 have become inactive because of the negative effects that come along with aging (Khazaee-Pool, Sadeghi, Mailessi & Rahimi, 2015). Through many studies it shows that physical activity, health and exercise can drastically improve older adult’s physical, mental, and cognitive health. Since older adults tend to gravitate more toward what they already know, it is not likely to see someone above the age of 65 avidly using a smart phone for more reasons than keeping in touch with family and friends or using gadgets that are new to the market. But maybe it is time for older adults to expand their horizons with the benefit of these tools to improve their health.

I will be comparing two similar products, one being a device and one being an application. The first product is a very popular device used mainly by people in their early 20’s and 30’s called the FitBit. The FitBit looks like a watch or a tiny monitor that one can hook onto their clothing. This device acts as a fitness tool — whereby it tracks an individual’s daily activity, exercise, food intake, weight and sleep habits. For example, if one goes on a 1 mile run, this device will track the steps taken, calories burned, and will allow the user to set a goal for the next time. This product can be very helpful when one is trying to lose weight or just live a healthy lifestyle. It is also a great motivator and helps keep track of goals. The FitBit is very easy to use; to set it up you will need to input your personal information into the FitBit website and then after that, all that has to be done is to wear the device daily and it will track your daily movements and goals.

Another product that is similar to the FitBit but is slightly less of an automatic tracking device and more of a self-monitored application is called “MyFitnessPal”. MyFitnessPal can be downloaded to the iPhone or Android phones and used for personal fitness instructions. With this application it allows you to enter your personal diet and the exact amount of food that one has eaten that day, enter in daily exercise, and then it calculates how many calories are eaten a day and the amount of calories burned and will suggest how much more one should eat and the total exercise to be done in that day. This can be a very helpful application for it allows one to keep track of their daily diet (mostly) and also adds in one’s exercise for the day which is highly important at all ages. The “MyFitnessPal” application is fairly easy to use and only requires one to download the software, enter in personal information, and then insert one’s daily consumption and exercise. The application does most of the work for you. These two products are similar in the way that they are both devices that direct people toward being healthy and allowing one to track their daily actions and intake. The main difference between the two is that one focuses more on exercise and the other focuses more on calories being eaten in a day.

Research – Positive Effects of Exercise

Physical Fitness Effects on Overall Happiness

In Khazaee-Pool’s, et al. (2015) longitudinal study it shows the immediate and lasting impacts on older adult’s happiness before and after a period of physical exercise. 120 male and female volunteers, ages 65 through 89, participated in an eight-week group physical exercise. Prior to this experiment though, each participant took the Oxford Happiness Inventory (OHI), which is an online test that examines the individual’s happiness and depression levels. Among these 120 volunteers, 60 of them were part of the independent variable (not participating in exercise) and the other 60 were part of the dependent variable (participated in the exercise program) (Khazee-Pool, et al., 2015). The results of these older adult’s happiness was very surprising.

Two-weeks after the eight-week physical exercise program, the older adults were asked to take the OHI exam again to test their overall happiness. The results showed a dramatic increase in happiness, mental health, self-efficacy, life satisfaction, positive mood, and self-esteem, while the independent control groups happiness stayed the same (Khazee-Pool, et al., 2015).

Physical Fitness Effects on Cognitive Function

In Condello, Forte, Shea, DiBaldassarre, Capranica & Pesce’s (2017) study they tested the outcome of physical exercise on an older adult’s brain. 130 males and females, between the ages 55-84, participated in this study by being involved in a structured and individualized workout and meal plan program to improve their physical health. Through this study, the independent variable would be the selected people that are not participating in the workout program and meal plans, and the dependent variable would be the people that are partaking in the program (Condello, et al., 2017).

The findings on physical exercise’s impact on cognitive function, special attention and executive control are essential for older adults to keep in mind since this is such an important part of aging. It is shown that with exercise neurotransmitters are being released in your brain constantly. Serotonin, dopamine, and GABA are all examples of neurotransmitters that can be released just from doing a simple daily exercise, overall increasing one’s mood and happiness level (Condello, et al., 2017). Not only were these mood enhancing neurotransmitters being released, but they were also having a positive impact on cognitive function as well. It is common for older adults to begin to lose balance and fall, develop Alzheimer’s disease, or dementia. Through this study, it was proven that with structured workout plans and overall having better health it can not only improve one’s overall balance but also can prevent one from developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia since the brain is being so active while being physical (Condello, et al., 2017). Some other functions that can be improved with exercise are the reduction of cardiovascular problems, higher neurotrophic levels, and an overall better brain performance (Condello, et al., 2017).

Serving Well for Seniors

It is certain that physical fitness is very important as people age but it is still not shown to be very prevalent in older adults which is why the FitBit or “MyFitnessPal” would be a great tool for them to use. These two products would allow older adults to track their fitness and eating patterns while also informing them of the approximate activity they should be doing per day. Some potential difficulties that older adults may run into using these products would be not being able to properly see the device due to the aging eye, problems including cataracts, glaucoma and presbyopia (Condello, et al., 2015). Another common factor would be that older adults are already typically inactive and it may be hard for them to not only use the devices but also to get the courage to start being active again (Khazee-Pool, et al., 2015). There are many possible difficulties that can come along with these devices, but overall it should only have a positive effect on them.

Conclusion

Cognitive function and mental happiness is something that is important throughout one’s life and if there is any chance to improve it, most would take up that offer. With Fitbit and “MyFitnessPal” both being potential applications and devices for older adults to use, it could definitely help improve their happiness but even their day to day functions. Also, another pointing factor to why older adults do not exercise as much is because they do not have the motivation to do so. With FitBit it is very easy to get motivated because it is always on your body and will even send personalized messages throughout the day to encourage one to reach their goals. With “MyFitnessPal” it makes it fun for people to track their health and even allows people to interact with each other and encourage others. It is certain that these two applications and devices are both positive tools that older adults can be using to help keep control of their diets and exercise. Although it is something that older adults are not familiar with, the tools are both simple enough to use that one can simply keep track of their health while improving their overall happiness and cognitive ability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Condello, G., Forte, R., Falbo, S., Shea, J. B., Di Baldassarre, A., Capranica, L., & Pesce, C. (2017). Steps to health in cognitive aging: Effects of physical activity on spatial attention and executive control in the elderly. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11

Khazaee-pool, M., Sadeghi, R., Majlessi, F., & Rahimi Foroushani, A. (2015). Effects of physical exercise program on happiness among older people. Journal of Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing, 22(1), 47-57. doi:10.1111/jpm.12168

 

 

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