To change physical activity behaviour you need to make the data useful

Rather unsurprisingly, new research has shown that simply asking people to wear an activity monitor didn’t result in them doing more steps.

Without context, data isn’t useful.

For the study, 36 physical education students were given a monitor and told it would measure the amount of sunlight they received each day. Later, they were each given a second monitor to count their steps. In fact, both monitors were counting the number of steps the participants took each day.

There was no difference in the number of steps measured by the two devices – knowing they were being monitored didn’t motivate the participants to change their physical activity behaviour.

When people are given standard, non-personalised information about “one-size-fits-all” physical activity, behaviour change is moderate at best, and any gains are not sustained in the long-term. Providing contexualised data feedback promotes an understanding of personal physical activity, which is integral to various scientific models of behaviour change and regulation.

So, if I only told you that yesterday you did a total of 132-minutes of moderate-intensity activity, would you change the activity you had planned to do today? What about tomorrow? Probably not, you’d probably just keep living your normal life –  just like the people in the study.

What if I told you that if you could increase that activity by just 18-minutes a day you would meet your daily goal and reduce your risk of getting a number of chronic diseases, like diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. And, what if I guided you to decide how you could achieve the extra 18-minutes using activities you already do in your lifestyle – that you could achieve this by adding 9-minutes to your morning and evening commute (e.g. use a car park further away from the office), or by going for an 18-minute walk at lunch time.

You would know what you need to do and how you can do it – the data is contextualised and personal.

Personal contextualised data feedback empowers physical activity behaviour change, simply seeing a single number does not.

KiActiv® programmes combine the latest technologies with cutting edge academic understanding to empower self-management and support self-endorsed lifestyle change. This makes the wearable data valuable and creates individual understanding that empowers authentic choice, which promotes effective behaviour change. Our personalised digital medicine is natural, safe and accessible to everyone.

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