Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Sentab study shows activity tracker benefits for older people

Steve Rogerson
May 9, 2017
Most over 64s increase levels of physical activity when wearing an activity tracker, according to research carried out in Estonia and the UK by Sentab.
In a recent motion research paper, iHealth’s Wave activity tracker was used to monitor movement in adults aged 64 or older. The study found that an overwhelming majority of participants showed increased levels of physical activity while wearing the device.
The study was conducted by Estonia-based Sentab, developer of a TV-based therapeutic system for older adults, designed to empower users with video communications and wellbeing through physical activity and cognitive stimuli.
Following a group of adults in Estonia and the UK, the study tracked changes in physical exercise and found that participants were more willing to engage in activity when supplied with an activity monitor, were given instructional exercise videos and provided with feedback on their progress.
“As population in growing older, the healthcare system is under tremendous financial stress,” said Tarmo Pihl, CEO of Sentab. “More effort should be put into health prevention and the research that we conducted has shown that a fairly inexpensive technological solution can help achieve exceptional results.”
The global population is aging rapidly. It is estimated that 21 per cent of the population will be aged over 60 by 2050. A major challenge of the growing number of old people is the potential increase in healthcare demands due to age-related chronic diseases and disabilities.
“We’re delighted that this research reinforces our own findings and that our products are making a real difference in users lives,” said iHealth CEO for EMEA Stéphane Kerrien. “IHealth’s mission is to empower individuals to take charge of their own health and well-being. A big part of staying healthy is staying active; our range of products are specifically designed to support a healthy lifestyle.”
In total, 85 per cent of respondents said they engaged in physical activity either somewhat or considerably more than before. The study also found that the average number of steps older adults made per day was at 4100, while the recommended norm for the age group was at 7000. The average time they were active per day was around 40 minutes, whereas the recommended target is 60 minutes.
“Our key findings were that activity monitoring can have a significantly positive effect on behavioural change of an older adult, prompting them to engage in physical activity more often,” said Mall Maasik, senior researcher at Sentab. “Our participants graded themselves as feeling good after engaging in exercise; this showed some correlation between a person’s mental condition and cognitive behaviour.”
The study also found that people are physically active on average 2.31 times per week. The paper also concludes that the self-evaluation of older adults regarding their health condition is somewhat more pessimistic than their physical abilities demonstrate. It also presents evidence that physical exercises had a highly positive effect on how people felt themselves right after the exercise.
IHealth is based in Silicon Valley and is a subsidiary of the Tianjin-based, Chinese manufacturing company Andon Health. It has designed and manufactured clinically approved mobile health electronics that include wireless blood pressure monitors, blood glucose meters, body analysis and composition scales, a pulse oximeter, and activity tracker.