Background: Physical activity has been shown to positively affect many aspects of life, and the positive relationship between physical activity levels and health is well established. Recently, research on the interrelationship between physical activity levels and subjective experiences has gained attention. However, the underlying mechanisms that link physical activity levels with subjective experiences of physical fitness have not been sufficiently explained.
Objective: This study aimed to explore the role of physical activity tracking (PAT) in the relationship between physical activity levels and satisfaction with physical fitness in older adults. It is hypothesized that higher levels of physical activity are associated with a higher satisfaction with physical fitness in older adults and that this positive association is stronger for older people who use mobile devices for PAT.
Methods: As part of this study, 1013 participants aged 50 years or older and living in Switzerland were interviewed via computer-assisted telephone interviews. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were applied. The interaction effects between physical activity levels and PAT were evaluated using multiple linear regression analysis.
Results: Descriptive analyses showed that 719 participants used at least 1 mobile device and that 136 out of 719 mobile device users (18.9%) used mobile devices for PAT. In the multivariate regression analysis, frequent physical activity was found to have a positive effect on satisfaction with physical fitness (beta=.24, P<.001). A significant interaction effect between physical activity levels and PAT (beta=.30, P=.03) provides some first evidence that the positive effects of physical activity on satisfaction with physical fitness can be enhanced by PAT.
Conclusions: The results indicate the potential of PAT to enhance the physical fitness of older adults. However, the results also raise new issues in this context. Recommendations for further research and practice include the acquisition of longitudinal data, a more detailed observation of durations of use, and the development of devices for PAT considering health psychology and gerontology theories.