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TUESDAY, Jan. 5, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Interventions using apps or trackers seem to be effective in promoting physical activity, according to a review published online Dec. 21 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Liliana Laranjo, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Sydney, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to identify randomized, controlled trials that assessed the impact of a mobile app or activity tracker among adults (18 to 65 years old) without chronic illness.

The researchers identified 35 studies, of which 28 were included in a meta-analysis (7,454 participants; 28 percent women), which showed a small-to-moderate positive effect on physical activity measures (standardized difference in means, 0.350), corresponding to 1,850 steps per day. In subgroup analyses and meta-regression, interventions including text messaging and personalization features were significantly more effective.

“Given the wide and increasing reach of smartphones, even modest improvements in physical activity can produce large effects at the population level,” the authors write. “Longer-duration studies with more diverse populations should explore long-term effectiveness and sustained engagement.”

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