Sentab News & Blog / Physical Activity in Later Life: a Study by Sentab

Physical Activity in Later Life: a Study by Sentab

Sentab has published a paper looking into the physical activity levels in later life. 

The current paper discusses the findings obtained from Horizon2020 funded project “Sentab: Combatting Senior. Loneliness through Fun and. Entertaining Technology”. The project involved a cohort of 25 older adults to objectively measure their physical activity with the help of activity monitor as an input device and SentabTV as an output device. Additionally, the project studied the efficacy of using media interfaces to influence the behavioural change amongst older adults in undertaking more vigorous physical activities. Instructional videos as well as gamified interfaces and auto-generated questionnaires over TV interface were used to increase interest amongst older adults towards physical activity. The results collated from the interaction between a user and SentabTV were in turn fed back in a short summary information to enage user better with the particular activity.

Key Findings:

  • The proper tools such as gamified user experience and feedback, as well as use of activity monitoring can have a significant positive effect on behavioural change of an older adult to engage into physical activities. This research evidenced an increase in physical activity amongst 85% of project participants. A total of 85% of project participants assessed that they are moderately or significantly more physically active after having Sentab kit installed and activity monitor supplied. This is an important conclusion indicating that with a proper motivational mechanism (such as feedback) it is possible to induce a positive behavioural change that has a potential of generally improving the health of older adults. This in turn will have a positive effect on their longer term health and wellbeing;
  • The research confirmed previous findings that older adults tend to value their health condition lower than it shows from the observation of their objective health behaviour. Although around 50% of project participants enaged in good levels of physical activities, their graded their health as fair;
  • The steps distrubution per participant was following a normal distrubution curve with a mean of 4,124 steps and standard deviation of 1,810 steps. This means that approximately in 68% of the cases, people between age 65 and 79 would walk on average between 2,314 and 5,934 steps;
  • On average, older adults do not reach activity levels recommended by WHO, i.e. 150 minutes per week. The average measured levels were between 80-90 minutes per week;
  • The study also found that momentary feeling after physical exercises elevates substantially – people are feeling significantly better than normally. On average, people graded their feeling good after physical exercise, while at other times they graded the perception of their health condition as fair;
  • The study framework described the hypothesis of the physical activity and higher levels of social interactions having positive effect on a person’s mental condition and cognitive behaviour that was also researched. Certainly, while there is positive effect of higher level of physical activity on person’ cognitive behaviour, the correlation analysis with data collected from Sentab shows only a weak positive correlation between physical activity and cognitive agility. There was somewhat more strong positive correlation through between person’s social and cognitive attributes, which indicates that social people are likely maintaining also their cognitive capabilities better.

You can read more by downloading the study here.