UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Your (virtual) trainer in the palm of your hand : efficacy of a theory-based exercise application to enhance exercise adherence Voth, Elizabeth Christine


Background: Use of mobile health (mHealth) technology is on an exponential rise. mHealth applications (apps) have the capability to reach a large number of individuals, but until now have lacked the integration of evidence-based theoretical constructs to increase exercise behaviour in users. Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a theory-based, self- monitoring app on exercise and self-monitoring behaviour over 8-weeks. Methods: Fifty-six adults (Mage = 40 years ± 13) were randomly assigned to either receive the mHealth app (experimental; n = 28), or control (control; n = 28). All participants engaged in an exercise goal setting session at baseline. Experimental condition participants received weekly SMS (short-messaging service) text messages grounded in social cognitive theory and were encouraged to self-monitor exercise bouts on the app on a daily basis. Exercise behaviour, frequency of self-monitoring exercise behaviour, self-efficacy to self-monitor, and self- management of exercise behaviour was collected at baseline and post-testing. Results: Engagement in exercise bouts was greater in the experimental condition (M = 7.24, SD = 3.40) as compared to the control condition (M = 4.74, SD = 3.70, P = .03, d = .70) at week-8 post-testing. Frequency of self-monitoring increased significantly over the 8-week investigation between the experimental and control conditions (P < .001, partial η² = .599), with the experimental condition self-monitoring significantly more at post (M = 6.00, SD = 0.93) in comparison to the control condition (M = 1.95, SD = 2.58, P < .001, d = 2.10). Self-efficacy to self-monitor, and perceived self-management of exercise behaviour were unaffected by this intervention. Conclusions: The successful integration of social cognitive theory into an mHealth exercise self- monitoring app provides support for future research to: i) feasibly integrate theoretical constructs into existing exercise apps, and ii) increase self-monitoring and exercise behaviour.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada