Sports medicine

The researches find that the physical activity levels at the cancer level is most important. patients recovering from cancer increase their physical activity levels; therefore new research in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship reports. Because In the first ever study of its kind researchers from the University of Surrey and Universidad de Oviedo in Spain evaluated fitness apps and their suitability for helping cancer survivors increase their physical activity.

Cancer Survivorship reports

Clinical guidance recommends physical activity and exercise for those recovering from cancer to improve quality of life; reduce fatigue and lessen on-going symptoms. However; limited information is available on how this can be achieve in a real world setting. Smartphone fitness apps could provide a form of ‘virtual’ exercise supervision to patients; but cancer clinicians often lack confidence in what to recommend; as evidence on their quality and content is limit.

During this unique study researchers examined 67 fitness apps on iOS and Android to assess their suitability for improving physical activity ; for those recovering from cancer. Apps which required payment; the use of wearable technologies ; or those with inappropriate content for people with cancer (due to negative body images/unfounded claims of effectiveness) were excluded.

Use of wearable technologies

Over half the apps were available on both iOS and Android, with content in 46% of them focusing on a combination of aerobic/strength training or stretching and 39% providing solely aerobic content. Researchers screened apps using the Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS) which examines engagement, functionality; aesthetics and information within the apps and for the first time included additional considerations such as awareness and knowledge.

Behavior change techniques such as goal setting and monitoring were also examined and all are rated on a five point scale. One fifth of fitness apps examined contained content suitable for people affected by cancer showing that they could be an effective tool in helping to improve physical activity. These focussed on aerobic-based activities and tended to include goal setting; monitoring and feedback which provides reassurance to health professionals as both have been found to be successful in changing health-related behaviors.

Improve physical activity

Researchers found that apps available on iOS were more likely to target attitudes and help-seeking; compared to those on Android; and performed slightly better in terms of content and quality. This information paves the way for providing clinicians the confidence and knowledge to prescribe fitness apps to their patients. However; there is currently little in place to help those recovering from cancer to increase physical activity levels.