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Can we trust Virtual Personal Training and mHealth apps?

Technology is a powerful tool, and most high-tech gadgets could prove to be extremely beneficial or rather harmful and time-wasting. However, since the Internet and social networks are so widely spread, technology can become an ally of fitness and touch the lives of many people at the same time. Virtual personal training delivers appropriate fitness advice with the help of technology gadgets and the Internet. Virtual training and monitoring apps are available to download, and this approach of fitness becomes personal when it takes into account your personal data, sometimes involving direct advice from a trainer.

Likewise, our website is undertaking an even more personal approach to virtual personal training by delivering videochat sessions and virtual access to a personal trainer who will keep track of your progress and vital signs. With this program, you can set up a tablet on a kickstand and learn a personalized home exercise program, or get some motivation for your daily workout routine. But there are many who would say virtual training can’t be personal and it is not to be trusted. Hence, the question arises, how effective are mHealth apps and should we expect good results from virtual personal training? Can we get a response from science?

For many years now, the scientific community has tried to measure how effective virtual training tools can be. A research performed in 2008 assessed the effectiveness of a hand-held personal digital assistant whose function was only to monitor physical activity, provide graphics and suggest behavioral changes. The results after 8 weeks showed that these tools caused real and measurable changes in people’s physical activity, and can be used to motivate sedentary people to stay more active (King, 2008).

Moreover, different strategies have been used, such as web-based interventions and podcasting. In an intriguing study about virtual training through podcasting, the investigators from the University of North Carolina showed that the key to achieve good results is the structure of the information provided. The use of social cognitive theory alongside with accurate data and an intelligent design of the information was paramount to get good results (Turner-McGrievy, 2009). This shows the importance of getting high-quality information from highly qualified professionals, regardless of the type of communication that is being used.

Yet another study from the University of California showed that sedentary people would increase their physical activity when engaging with mobile-based intervention, and this change would remain over a long period of time. The investigators found that one of their groups got greater results by just being reminded to access the information and tutorials weekly, and the most probable cause is a higher self-motivation that led them to change their lifestyles (Patrick, 2013). With a higher engagement and motivation, this type of programs is very likely to modify behaviors and have even better results (Hebden, 2014). So, if you are thinking about Virtual Personal Training as an option, keep in mind that the information might be provided to you, but will only work when you start doing something about it.

Professionals are nowadays reaching more people through innovative ways. There is usually a lot to choose from in the market, but just be certain you stick to the right people. Keep in mind that the main difference between a good program and a lousy one is scientific data, so a final peace of advice would be to look for the evidence. Virtual Personal Training will be a good strategy to reach your health and fitness goals as long as it sticks to the facts and as long as you don’t stop doing your part. So, stay motivated, and remember having all of the information in the tip of your fingers can be the start of a real change when you start moving.

Getting better at the click of a Button

Have you been feeling sick a lot lately? Been stressed at work? When is the last time that you did something you enjoy? All these questions may seem unrelated, but they are interlinked.

When a person is happy, he feels better. His muscles are more relaxed, he feels less pain, and his immunity is strong. All this is true according to the theory of holistic wellness. Holistic wellness suggests that people's health is linked to their emotions and how good they feel about their situations [1]. It's hard to imagine that how sick or healthy you are depends on how you feel [2]. Many people would blame their misery on a sick day on the sickness, not the other way around. However, studies are being conducted to show that how people feel directly impacts on their health by “exploring the conceptual holistic framework relevant to healthcare in the management of chronic disease, and operationalizing it”.[3]

So, how do you get yourself thinking positively to stay healthy? How do you know if you are healthy enough holistically speaking? Traditionally, the answer to that would be to seek out a wellness therapist to let you know if you’re in the right place. If you’re not, he or she could guide you on how to change for the better. These days, traditional face-to-face sessions are not your only option. At Therapy on Demand, we introduce our alternate holistic wellness check bot. Our bot will ask you to answer a few questions to determine your overall holistic health score. The questions will range from how you feel about your physical health to your state of mind, all of which are quantitative indicators of wellness [4].

The wellness check bot is your first step to getting better no matter where or who you are. As a e-health tool, it can be used by people of every age including older people [5]. With a wellness score in hand, you will be on your way to a better life. If you feel that you need a bit of help to improve your wellness score, our dedicated Therapy on Demand therapists will take you through motivational interviewing sessions. They will remotely guide you through improving your life on your own terms. You’ll feel better, and end up doing better at the click of a few buttons.

Sources:

    1. http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/what-is-holistic-medicine#1
    2. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm
    3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4768402/
    4. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0898010112453327?journalCode=jhna&
    5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3228591/


References:
King, A. C., Ahn, D. K., Oliveira, B. M., Atienza, A. A., Castro, C. M., & Gardner, C. D. (2008). Promoting physical activity through hand-held computer technology. American journal of preventive medicine, 34(2), 138-142.

Turner-McGrievy, G. M., Campbell, M. K., Tate, D. F., Truesdale, K. P., Bowling, J. M., & Crosby, L. (2009). Pounds Off Digitally study: a randomized podcasting weight-loss intervention. American journal of preventive medicine, 37(4), 263-269.

Patrick, K., Norman, G. J., Davila, E. P., Calfas, K. J., Raab, F., Gottschalk, M., ... & Covin, J. R. (2013). Outcomes of a 12-month technology-based intervention to promote weight loss in adolescents at risk for type 2 diabetes. Journal of diabetes science and technology, 7(3), 759-770.

Hebden, L., Cook, A., Ploeg, H. P., King, L., Bauman, A., & Allman‐Farinelli, M. (2014). A mobile health intervention for weight management among young adults: a pilot randomised controlled trial. Journal of human nutrition and dietetics, 27(4), 322-332.

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