Stepping Together: How Social Support Optimizes the Benefits of Mobile Fitness Devices

It may seem like everyone is wearing some type of health-tracking device nowadays, and older adults are no exception. Health tracking devices are types of mobile fitness technology (mFit) that benefit well-being by tracking physical activities and health conditions, helping wearers set personal health goals, and promoting communal support among users. These benefits are even greater among those with social support on how to use mFit technology. A recent study further examines the association between specific mFit technology features and both physical and psychological well-being. The study additionally considers how social support promoting mFit technology use impacts these associations among older users.

Drawing on a theory exploring the benefits of social support on health, researchers used a survey to collect data from 189 participants aged 65 and better who use mFit technology. Respondents were asked questions about their physical and psychological well-being and the extent to which they felt supported by social network members about mFit technology use. They were also asked questions examining the extent to which they used different features on their mFIT device, including features for data management (i.e., tracking activities and attitudes), activity control (i.e., performance feedback, reminder, and goal management), and social interaction (i.e., sharing exercise data, receiving encouragement, and competing with others). Researchers further collected information about mFit device type, daily duration of usage, and weekly frequency of usage, in addition to basic demographic information.

The findings indicate that data management and social interaction features are associated with greater physical and psychological well-being, while activity control features are only associated with greater psychological well-being. Those with high levels of social support promoting mFIT technology usage exhibit even greater psychological benefits from using data management and social interaction features. They also exhibit greater physical benefits from social interaction features.

The study highlights the benefits of different mFIT technology features on physical and psychological well-being, and the role of social support for the technology in reaping these benefits. It thus sheds light on the importance of helping older adults with technology when trying to enhance their well-being.


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Suh, A., & Li, M. (2022). How the use of mobile fitness technology influences older adults’ physical and psychological well-being. Computers in Human Behavior, 107205.


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