Objective: The tracking of one’s own physical activity with mobile devices is a way of monitoring and motivating oneself to remain healthy. Older adults’ general use of mobile devices for physical activity tracking has not yet been examined systematically. The study aimed to describe the use of physical activity trackers, smartwatches and smartphones, or tablets for tracking physical activity and to examine the reasons for the use of these technologies.
Methods: Participants aged ≥50 years (N = 1013) living in Switzerland were interviewed in a telephone survey. To address the research questions, we calculated descriptive frequency distributions, tested for differences between groups, and performed logistic regression analyses.
Results: Descriptive and multivariate analyses showed that (a) 20.5% of participants used mobile devices for physical activity tracking; (b) men, younger individuals, those with a strong interest in new technology, and those who frequently exercised had a higher likelihood of using mobile devices for physical activity tracking; and (c) participants more often agreed with reasons for use relating to tracking physical activity and motivating oneself to remain healthy than they did with reasons relating to social factors.
Conclusions: The study presented representative data about the actual use of mobile tracking technology in persons over 50 years of age. Today, mainly active and younger elderly (mostly men) with a high interest in technology are using tracking technologies. Results indicate a need for further studies on motivational and usability aspects regarding the use of mobile health tracking devices by older adults.