Almost 92% of Americans own a cell phone in 2014, with almost 60% owning smartphones. One does not have to have to have a lot of money to own a smartphone as almost 50% of Americans with an income of $30,000 and lower also own one. Smartphones function like a mini-computer and allows access to email, internet, browsing, surfing the web, texting, games, pictures, and applications, also known as apps.
Apps are what make the smartphone more useful than mobile phones, which also have many of the same features as a smartphone. There are over a million apps each for Android and iPhone users, and the ideas are seemingly endless from apps for games, weather, and sports, to music, movies, and migraines. Apps that are geared to health and fitness are growing in popularity, and are called “m-health” (mobile health) apps.
Technology has recently been seen as a way to help low-income and at-risk groups better manage their health. A study was done at UCLA that used an m-health app to help teach 40 African American women better health habits. Black women are more susceptible to heart disease, and the women chosen for the study ranged in ages 25-45 and had to have at least two heart disease triggers. Poor eating habits and lack of exercise along with stress was a common factor for these women.
These women had fallen into an unhealthy pattern. When we gain weight but do not exercise, the added pounds can weaken our joints. This leads to a vicious cycle of pain, such as knee pain, back pain, shoulder pain, shoulder injury and the need to seek out an orthopedist. Because of the pain, the inclination to exercise diminishes more, we eat more, we have more pain, and the cycle continues. This adds to the problem of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a myriad of health problems.
The women were taught in four sessions about healthy lifestyles, how to reduce stress, and eat more healthy. They were then given an Android phone that was loaded with the m-health app that was developed at UCLA. The phone could be used to text other members in the group, but to not call out. The app is an interactive one that sends daily messages to the users reminding them to eat fruits and vegetables and tracks their exercise. In order to track their movement, the phone had to be worn when they were awake, at all times, via a passport pouch. They also took blood pressure readings once a week with a Bluetooth-blood pressure cuff that sent the numbers to the study lead.
The researchers were able to see when blood pressure would spike over the Fourth of July, when salty foods are consumed. It was also able to tell when a member of the study group was faking the exercise by shaking the phone instead. In the end the women had improvement in blood pressure, cholesterol, decreased stress, better eating habits, and were exercising more.
If you have sustained shoulder pain or knee pain while exercising, contact our sports medicine specialists at Orthopedic Surgery San Diego.