Move out of my Way! I’m on a Roll: Walking with a purpose by Jeff See

Exercise overall is a very important thing. However, as we’ve learned in class already, exercise is extremely important to aging adults and getting into the habit of exercising is important. Exercising has the ability to improve one’s physical life, mental life, and emotional life and has great benefits for older adults.

There are many different apps that are available for download in today’s technological world. Many apps are really easy to use, especially for younger generations. There are a lot of apps though that could be great for older adults as well. Some of those apps include the MapMyRun app and the Steps Pedometer & Step Counter app. These apps are both excellent for exercising which is very important for all ages, but especially older adults.

I believe that both apps possess the ability to help older adults in a multitude of ways. The first way is in helping older adults to exercise more. We’ve talked about in class how exercising is good for all ages, but getting in the habit of exercising in older age is great for the body and the brain. We’ve learned that the brain remains plastic even through aging, which means exercising is really important. In an older adult that does exercise, it has shown that it can help with improvement of their hippocampus, which in turn helps improve their memory, as well as promotes continued brain health and improved plasticity.

All of that being said, I believe that besides helping improve the functions of the brain, I believe that exercising helps the rest of the body as well. Regular exercise can help prevent and reduce the effects of osteoporosis. Besides helping to reduce the effects of osteoporosis, regular exercise is important for good health in terms of cardiovascular health. Effectively regulating blood pressure can help in preventing the development of different diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s, as well as the prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

MapMyRun is an app that is available for download on cell phones. It is also available online via computer. It enables people that use the app to track their progress on runs, walks, or bike rides. It keeps track of where you are going and how far you have gone. It also has enables people to use other people’s routes that they have previously done. So besides mapping routes, using other users’ routes, and tracking your own progress, users of MapMyRun can also keep a food log through the app that allows them to keep track of their nutrition levels. One of the last unique things about MapMyRun is the social act that is a part of the app. It allows you to follow other users so that you can share your activities with them and you can see their activity as well. It enables users to connect together and can lead to encouragement and connectivity.

The other app we are looking at is the Steps Pedometer & Step Counter Activity Tracker. The main point of the Steps app is simple in that it counts the number of steps you take in a day. It enables the user to set a goal for the number of steps you want to take, and then as you are approaching the number the app changes colors so you know know easier that you are closer to your goal. Another unique feature to the Steps app is it can track your caloric intake through a nutrition log.

The first study looked at is a study that specifically looked at a three different apps that helped measure the initial physical activity levels and sedentary levels in midlife to older adults. The study had 95 participants that aged 45 years and above with little smartphone experience and a less than average sedentary lifestyle and examined their lifestyles for 8 weeks. Without going into too much detail, the apps that were used were an an analytically framed app, a socially framed app, and an affectively framed app (King et al. 2016).

The study relates to the idea that I have presented in bringing along the MapMyRun app and the Steps app to older adults. During the study, it shows that the users of the social and affective app reported the least amount of sitting time (King et al. 2016). I believe that older adults who were to use the MapMyRun app or Steps app could find similar results to the social app users. I believe that having a purpose to exercise with a location that could be provided, as well as the social aspects that go into walking or going for a bike ride play along with them as they are great activities to do with other people.

These apps may not be that known to older adults though. MapMyRun is really good for farther distances, which could be hard for an older adult to actually enjoy. The Steps app I actually had not heard of before this assignment. I believe that once it is set up, the Steps app would be easier for older adults to use since it just stays on for you. The MapMyRun app is also simple to use but does require more user interface which could potentially be problematic for older adults.

The second study looked at was as study conducted to examine the rate of mobility in old age. The study included 86 persons that were 65 years or older. Throughout the study, the researchers gave the older adults belts that included a smart phone in it. They were asked to wear it from the moment they woke up to the moment they went to sleep. The point of the smart phones was to measure things like number of steps and distance traveled. Throughout the study, the participants were given 15 minutes to play with their phones and learn how to charge it and turn on the apps. (Giannouli, Bock, Mellone, & Zijlstra, 2016).

This second study addresses the fact that the older adult participants were able to explore their phones and the apps needed for the study, alone with 15 minutes of instruction which I believe was very beneficial to the older adults. It also talks about in the study that it was hard get all the participants on the same page as to record their data at the end of each day. I believe that a hardship for older adults trying to address the MapMyRun app and Steps app would run into the problem of not really knowing how to use the apps. They would find good success with these apps as long as they had good instruction on what the apps do and how they could be beneficial.

All that being said, I believe that the MapMyRun app is better for the social aspect that follows it. It is just so easy for someone, including an older adult, to be able to keep track of where their friends walk and how far. It is relatively easy to be able to encourage your friends to spend more time outside and walk or bike around. I believe the Steps app is better however for specifics like how many steps one has taken. Both apps offer the availability to be able to keep a food log and keep track of one’s nutrition information. I think that either app would be appropriate for an older app and think they could both help older adults fight against osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, things such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as help older adults fight against loneliness with the social aspect.

References

Giannouli, E., Bock, O., Mellone, S., & Zijstra, W. (2016). Mobility in Old Age: Capacity Is Not Performance. Biomed Research International, 20161—8. Doi:10.1155/2016/3261567

King, A. C., Hekler, E. B., Grieco, L. A., Winter, S. J., Sheats, J. L., Buman, M. P., &… Cirimele, J. (2016). Effects of Three Motivationally Targeted Mobile Device Applications on Initial Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior Chance in Midlife and Older Adults: A Randomized Trial. Plos ONE, 11(6), 1-16, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156370

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