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Open AccessArticle

Use of Wearable Technology and Social Media to Improve Physical Activity and Dietary Behaviors among College Students: A 12-Week Randomized Pilot Study

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Division of Epidemiology & Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, 1300 S. 2nd St., Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
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School of Kinesiology, University of Minnesota, 1900 University Ave. S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(19), 3579; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16193579
Received: 3 September 2019 / Revised: 17 September 2019 / Accepted: 19 September 2019 / Published: 25 September 2019
College students demonstrate poor physical activity (PA) and dietary behaviors. We evaluated the feasibility of a combined smartwatch and theoretically based, social media-delivered health education intervention versus a comparison on improving college students’ health behaviors/outcomes. Thirty-eight students (28 female; Xage = 21.5 ± 3.4 years) participated in this two-arm, randomized 12-week pilot trial (2017–2018). Participants were randomized into: (a) experimental: Polar M400 use and twice-weekly social cognitive theory- and self-determination theory-based Facebook-delivered health education intervention; or (b) comparison: enrollment only in separate, but content-identical, Facebook intervention. Primary outcomes pertained to intervention feasibility. Secondary outcomes included accelerometer-estimated PA, physiological/psychosocial outcomes, and dietary behaviors. Intervention adherence was high (~86%), with a retention of 92.1%. Participants implemented health education tips 1–3 times per week. We observed experimental and comparison groups to have 4.2- and 1.6-min/day increases in moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA), respectively, at six weeks—partially maintained at 12 weeks. In both groups, similarly decreased body weight (experimental = −0.6 kg; comparison = −0.5 kg) and increased self-efficacy, social support, and intrinsic motivation were observed pre- and post-intervention. Finally, we observed small decreases in daily caloric consumption over time (experimental = −41.0 calories; comparison = −143.3). Both interventions were feasible/of interest to college students and demonstrated initial effectiveness at improving health behaviors/outcomes. However, smartwatch provision may not result in an additional benefit. View Full-Text
Keywords: health behavior change; theory; physiological health; Polar M400; facebook health behavior change; theory; physiological health; Polar M400; facebook
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Pope, Z.C.; Barr-Anderson, D.J.; Lewis, B.A.; Pereira, M.A.; Gao, Z. Use of Wearable Technology and Social Media to Improve Physical Activity and Dietary Behaviors among College Students: A 12-Week Randomized Pilot Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 3579.

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