Can a ‘rewards-for-exercise app’ increase physical activity, subjective well-being and sleep quality? An open-label single-arm trial among university staff with low to moderate physical activity levels

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Abstract

Background: This study examined the impact of a ‘rewards-for-exercise’ mobile application on physical activity, subjective well-being and sleep quality among 148 employees in a UK university with low to moderate physical activity levels. Methods: A three-month open-label single-arm trial with a one-year follow-up after the end of the trial. Participants used the Sweatcoin application which converted their outdoor steps into a virtual currency used for the purchase of products available at the university campus’ outlets, using an in-app marketplace. The primary outcome measure was self-reported physical activity. Secondary measures included device-measured physical activity, subjective well-being (i.e., life satisfaction, positive affect, negative affect), and self-reported sleep quality. Results: The findings show an increase in self-reported physical activity (d = 0.34), life satisfaction (d = 0.31), positive affect (d = 0.29), and sleep quality (d = 0.22) during the three-month trial period. Conclusion: The study suggests that mobile incentives-for-exercise applications might increase physical activity levels, positive affect, and sleep quality, at least in the short term. The observed changes were not sustained 12 months after the end of the trial.

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APA

Lemola, S., Gkiouleka, A., Read, B., Realo, A., Walasek, L., Tang, N. K. Y., & Elliott, M. T. (2021). Can a ‘rewards-for-exercise app’ increase physical activity, subjective well-being and sleep quality? An open-label single-arm trial among university staff with low to moderate physical activity levels. BMC Public Health, 21(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-10794-w

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