Last chance to join trial to tap web apps for better health

UWS Campbelltown campus 


There are still a limited number of places for people in Western Sydney, who are not highly active, wishing to join a new clinical trial to assess how effectively web apps increase your physical activity and improve your health. 

The Walk 2.0 project, lead by the University of Western Sydney, and in collaboration with Central Queensland University, is now recruiting adults from South Western Sydney who will each receive a pedometer to track the number of steps they take each day. 

The research team have used the latest web 2.0 tools and apps to create a dedicated website to assist those participating in the trial keep track of and communicate their physical activity with other users. The website also allows participants with low levels of physical activity to access information to help them lead a physically active lifestyle.  The effectiveness of the new site will be tested against participants assigned to an existing, conventional (web 1.0) physical activity site and a group who use a paper based log book and other resources to record and track their activity. 

Key body measurements for all participants, such as waist circumference and weight, will be recorded by the researchers at the start of the trial and then again at 3, 12, and 24 months. 

Principal researcher on the Walk 2.0 project, Professor Gregory Kolt, says the research will focus on walking and other incidental activities because they are relatively safe and easily accessible for most people. 

"When it comes to improving your health, walking works," says Professor Kolt, a psychologist, physiotherapist and leading physical activity and health researcher. "But the challenge has been motivating people to do it." 

Despite many health campaigns physical inactivity continues to contribute to ill health by increasing the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. 

"More than half of the Australian population do not do enough physical activity to stay healthy.  Yet there is the potential for new technology such as smart phones and cheaper internet access for the home computer to help people take charge of their health," says Professor Kolt. 

"The web has the potential to reach large groups of people and can provide health information when and where they need it.  There is a proliferation of websites, blog sites and smart phone apps devoted to health and fitness. Some help users track their physical activity and visually represent their achievements. However there's been little research on how effectively websites and applications motivate users to keep exercising and fundamentally change their behaviour." 

The study, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC), is recruiting participants from South Western Sydney and Central Queensland. 

This trial has UWS Human Research Ethics Committee approval (Number H8767).