GymCentral aims at increasing the physical and emotional wellbeing of adults of all ages. It does so based on the notion that physical activity and emotional wellbeing are deeply linked: an active body and mind facilitate interaction with society, feeling of participation, and access to/fruition of services, factors that are known to be highly correlated with happiness. On the other hand, social interactions and reduced stress act as a motivational factor for performing regular training. GymCentral helps to bring all this through remote training with a tablet-based solution.
We set up an trial with 40 older adults from Trento, Italy, who were performing a tailored exercise program for a period of two months (October ~ December, 2014). The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of personalised home-based physical activity programs for older adults using Gymcentral, and to explore the relationship with physical, psychological and social wellbeing. Participants were divided in two groups: a study group using the full Gymcentral application, and a control group using a simple application focused only on the training aspect. All participants were provided with a sensor to measure their overal physical activity.
One of the indicators we considered as part of the study in relation to the feasibility of home-based exercises is the persistance rate. From the total number of sessions (24) planned for the 8 weeks of study (3 sessions per week), we asked participants to carry out at least two of the three sessions prepared for each week. To calculate the persistence rate, the total number of exercise sessions in which each participant took part was divided by 24 (the total number of sessions).
Below we show the persistence rate of the of the two groups over the training program. The general persistence rate in the two groups was 76% (SD=22.5%), well above the threshold of 70% that was considered an acceptable criterion for success. More specifically, in the study group the persistence rate was 85%, while in the control group it was 65%.
If we group the participation by week and disitribute the users by number of participations per week (1, 2 and 3), we can see that participants of the study group not only complied with the coach's instructions, but they did more. This indicates that the features of the Gymcentral app were more engaging than those from the simple app. See the results in the chart below.
The activity programs were designed with the purpose of improving specific body functions. By measuring the improvements on the trainees as a result of the training, we're not only assessing the effectiveness of the program per se, but the effectiveness of the GymCentral as well. Two types of assessment exercises, developed and validated within the Otago Exercise Program (A. J. Campbell et al., 1997; J. C. Campbell & Robertson, 2003), were used to measure participants' leg muscle strength and walking ability at the beginning and at the end of the study. Below we illustrate the difference between both measurements.
With regard to leg muscle strength, a mixed between-within subjects analysis of variance was conducted to compare pre- and post- scores in the 30 second Chair Stand test between participants in the study and in the control group. Participants in the study group performed better that participants in the control group. This could be due to random variability, possibly related to the small sample size, but still does not affect negatively the results confirming that leg muscle strength significantly improved in both groups after the eight weeks period of training. Moreover, multiple comparison tests with Bonferroni correction showed that both groups significantly improved after eight weeks of training (p < .001 for the study group and p = .032 for the control group).
For gait speed, a mixed between-within subjects analysis of variance was conducted to compare pre- and post- gait speed in the Timed Up & Go test between participants in the study and in the control group. Although the interaction was not significant, multiple comparison tests with Bonferroni correction showed that gait speed significantly improved for the study group (p = .002) but not for the control group (p = .285).
For more information and insights about these studies, contact us at gymcentral.net