Social support can improve adherence to physical activity and healthy eating behavior change, and recently, smartphone fitness applications which provide interventions to groups of users are increasingly popular. However, the types of social support provided in the applications, and the features/approaches used to offer the support, vary widely. It is unknown which approach is the best to meet users' requirements. We conducted a mixed methods study to identify user requirements for social support in group fitness applications. We then developed MyFitnessTeam based on these requirements and evaluated it in a six-week field study. We found that participants desired informational and emotional support, and for group fitness applications to provide daily challenges that they could complete with their support network. MyFitnessTeam significantly improved adherence to fitness behaviors, with men having significantly higher adherence levels than women and participants who were inactive at baseline achieving similar adherence levels to the most baseline-Active participants. Groups of friends were more likely to exchange informational support but emotional support was low for both friends and strangers, due to lack of knowledge on when and how to offer such support. We propose five design recommendations to promote supportive interactions in group fitness applications.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Computer Science(all)
- Materials Science(all)