Middle-Aged Women’s Preferred Theory-Based Features in Mobile Physical Activity Applications

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health

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Diane K. Ehlers
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Jennifer L. Huberty
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The purpose of this study was to describe which theory-based behavioral and technological features middle-aged women prefer to be included in a mobile application designed to help them adopt and maintain regular physical activity (PA).


Women aged 30 to 64 years (N = 120) completed an online survey measuring their demographics and mobile PA application preferences. The survey was developed upon behavioral principles of Social Cognitive Theory, recent mobile app research, and technology adoption principles of the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology. Frequencies were calculated and content analyses conducted to identify which features women most preferred.


Behavioral features that help women self-regulate their PA (PA tracking, goal-setting, progress monitoring) were most preferred. Technological features that enhance perceived effort expectancy and playfulness were most preferred. Many women reported the desire to interact and compete with others through the application.


Theory-based PA self-regulation features and theory-based design features that improve perceived effort expectancy and playfulness may be most beneficial in a mobile PA application for middleaged women. Opportunities to interact with other people and the employment of social, game-like activities may also be attractive. Interdisciplinary engagement of experts in PA behavior change, technology adoption, and software development is needed.

Ehlers (dkehlers@illinois.edu) and Huberty are with the School of Nutrition & Health Promotion, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ.

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