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STUDY: Rates, patterns, and correlates of fitness tracker use among older MSers

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  • STUDY: Rates, patterns, and correlates of fitness tracker use among older MSers

    I use a heart rate monitor when I handcycle, but otherwise I don't use a tracker. That said, I've used them often in the past and they've served as a motivation tool to get moving! Mostly I've used Fitbits. Recommended! -Dave

    Disability and Health Journal

    Available online 31 July 2020

    Rates, patterns, and correlates of fitness tracker use among older adults with multiple sclerosis

    Stephanie L.SilveiraaJessica F.BairdabRobert W.Motlab


    Older adults with multiple sclerosis (MS) engage in alarmingly low levels of physical activity. Fitness trackers may be a promising approach for promoting and monitoring physical activity among older adults with MS.

    This study reports on the rates, patterns of fitness tracker use in adults with MS who are over 60 years of age. We hypothesized that older adults with MS who use fitness trackers “users” would report significantly more physical activity than those who don’t “non-users.”

    Participants across the United States completed an online survey that included self-reported demographic and clinical characteristics, fitness tracker use questionnaire, and Godin Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire (GLTEQ) for measuring total and health-promoting physical activity (GLTEQ-HCS).

    Of the 440 participants who completed the full survey, 112 (28%) identified as fitness tracker users. The most common activity monitors were Fitbit®, Smartphone app, Apple® watch, and Garmin®. Fitness tracker users mostly reported having relapsing-remitting MS, less disability (i.e., lower Patient Determined Disability Steps), higher income, and higher rates of employment. There was a statistically significant difference in GLTEQ Total (t(438) = −3.8, p = .001) and GLTEQ-HCS (t(438) = −2.8, p = .006) scores between fitness tracker users and non-users. Self-reported step counts were strongly correlated with both GLTEQ Total (ρ = .50) and GLTEQ-HCS (ρ = 0.54) scores in fitness tracker users.

    Further research is warranted investigating fitness tracker use and interests among older adults with MS and how technology may be applied as a behavioral tool to increase physical activity among this growing portion of the MS population.
    Dave Bexfield