Research has shown that self-monitoring can promote physical activity throughout the lifespan. Self-monitoring is defined as the documentation of exercising and health indicators supported by wearable electronic devices. Appropriate exercise is especially important for health promotion in higher age. It is, however, still unanswered how older adults actually handle devices for self-monitoring and which kind of feedback they wish and need. Also, motivational aspects and further consequences of use are rarely studied.
The objective of the study was to evaluate experiences, opportunities, and obstacles of self-monitoring when applied by older adults.
A semi-structured group interview was conducted with participants of a preceding usability-study (n = 6, mean age 71.7 years). Topics discussed included individual experiences and the effects of self-monitoring on behaviour. Text data was analysed using qualitative content analysis.
The analysis revealed four main themes: ‘Reasons for Use’, ‘Utilization Strategies’, ‘Consequences of Use’, and ‘Functionality of the Device’.
In general, older adults are motivated to engage in self-monitoring. Nevertheless some problematic aspects were identified including the missing suitability of currently available products for the needs of older adults. This might lead to overexertion and result in a higher demand for support during usage. Only if those requirements are taken into account can self-monitoring be effective in promoting physical activity in higher age.