Can we really find healthy living through apps?

“Few apps aimed at increasing health and wellbeing actually contain strategies and functions that lead to long-term change.” ― Life Matters, ABC

You’d have to agree that today’s time-poor lifestyle pushes most of us to seek quick-fix solutions to achieve our health goals.

RoamingRAVE posts often focus on the hard graft required in the form of behavioural change to achieve a healthier lifestyle but now there’s some real science behind using apps to help us rise to the challenge.

Relying on willpower is one reason why most of us don’t stick to our health goals but if using an app is your thing, as it is mine, research by Dr Fiona McKay at Deakin University School of Health and Social Development has provided a silver bullet.

It came up with a reliable, theory-based scale to help us select the RIGHT app.

The research looked at more than 300 healthy living apps available for Apple® and Android™ devices between July and October 2018. 

It found that apps that encouraged behaviour change included the following elements:

  1. Setting goals for the actions you like to achieve
  2. Tailoring the app to suit you
  3. Sharing your progress with others (through connections with social media)
  4. Receiving rewards or acknowledgements when you complete activities or make progress towards your goal. 

Each app description was reviewed by independent experts to determine if that app could be classified as behaviour-changing (change in this instance referring to activities or actions done regularly to achieve a healthier lifestyle such as exercising, eating healthier food, or managing stress).

Apps reviewed in the research had to have at least two of the four behaviour change elements. Next a systematic review to investigate the app’s potential for behaviour change was conducted allowing the creation of the App Behaviour Change Scale, or ABACUS. Cool huh?

So I guess you want to learn more about this rating system? VicHealth is where you’ll find the results of the potential effectiveness of apps that can help you achieve a healthier lifestyle. Select this link to find out more on how apps were selected, reviewed and rated.

Cue the Health Storylines app. It also has the elements required to stick to your goals. It works well for those living with a chronic disease but anyone wanting to track their health will find peace of mind. By monitoring symptoms, it allows anything unusual to come to light that can be raised with a health professional.

And it has that all-important share function, called Circle of Support, to encourage you along the way. There’s many other features to check out. So if you’d like to improve your quality of life through your own data and join me in living a healthier life, just click on this link to get started. 

After more than a year documenting her health via the Health Storylines app, the author has become a Self-Care Ambassador as part of a pilot to encourage others to track their health.