Adding Mobile Elements to Online Physical Activity Interventions for Adults Aged Over 50 Years: Prototype Development Study

Eline H G M Collombon*, Denise A Peels, Catherine A W Bolman, Gert-Jan de Bruijn, Lilian Lechner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Only a minority of adults aged over 50 years meet physical activity (PA) guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO). eHealth interventions are proven effective tools to help this population increase its PA levels in the short term, among which the Active Plus and I Move interventions have been developed by our own research group. To achieve long-term effects, increase intervention use, and decrease dropout rates, 3 emergent but different mobile elements (an activity tracker, an ecological momentary intervention [EMI] program, and a chatbot) were added separately to Active Plus and I Move. In this study, the prototype development and pilot-testing of these interventions is described.
This study aims to enhance 2 existing PA-stimulating computer-based interventions with 3 mobile elements (an activity tracker, an EMI program, or a chatbot) and test the prototypes on usability and appreciation within a target population of adults aged over 50 years.
A systematic design protocol consisting of development, evaluation, and adaptation procedures was followed with involvement of the target population. Literature searches separated per mobile element and interviews with the target population (N=11) led to 6 prototypes: Active Plus or I Move including (1) an activity tracker, (2) EMI, or (3) a chatbot. These prototypes were tested on usability and appreciation during pilot tests (N=47) and subsequently fine-tuned based on the results.
The literature searches and interviews provided important recommendations on the preferences of the target population, which enabled us to develop prototypes. The subsequent pilot tests showed that the mobile elements scored moderate to good on usability, with average System Usability Scale (SUS) scores of 52.2-82.2, and moderate to good on enjoyment and satisfaction, with average scores ranging from 5.1 to 8.1 on a scale of 1-10. The activity tracker received the best scores, followed by EMI, followed by the chatbot. Based on the findings, the activity tracker interventions were fine-tuned and technical difficulties regarding EMI and the chatbot were solved, which is expected to further improve usability and appreciation.
During this study, 6 prototypes of online PA interventions with added mobile elements were developed and tested for usability and appreciation. Although all prototypes scored moderate to high on usability, enjoyment, and satisfaction, it can be concluded that the integration of an activity tracker with a computer-based PA intervention is the most promising option among the 3 mobile elements tested during this study. The prototype development steps of the systematic design protocol followed can be considered useful and successful for the purposes of this study. The interventions can now be evaluated on a larger scale through a randomized controlled trial.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere42394
Pages (from-to)383-398
Number of pages16
JournalJMIR Formative Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2023


  • development
  • eHealth
  • mHealth
  • older adults
  • physical activity
  • pilot test
  • prototype
  • usability


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