Technology for promoting physical activity in young men

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Leena Palotie auditorium (101A). Zoom-link:

Topic of the dissertation

Technology for promoting physical activity in young men

Doctoral candidate

Master of Health Sciences, Occupational Therapist Anna-Maiju Leinonen

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Medicine, Research Unit of Medical Imaging, Physics and Technology (MIPT)

Subject of study

Medical Technology, Public Health


Docent Katja Borodulin, Age Institute


Professor Timo Jämsä, University of Oulu

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Technology for promoting physical activity in young men

Although the health benefits of physical activity (PA) are well known, the majority of adolescents are not sufficiently physically active. New innovative ways to promote active lifestyles are needed. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a wrist-worn activity monitor (Polar Active) and a gamified web-based mobile service in promoting PA in young men. The study also examined the convergent validity between three different accelerometer-based PA measurement methods.

In this study, two randomized controlled trials (RCT) were conducted in Oulu, Finland among 18-year-old men. The three-month RCT (n=276) was conducted in fall 2012 and the six-month population-based RCT (n=496) between September 2013 and March 2014. In both trials, participants were randomized to an intervention and a control group. The intervention group was given the wrist-worn Polar Active monitor with PA feedback. In the six-month trial, the intervention group also got access to a mobile service developed in this study. During both trials, PA was continuously measured in both study groups. In the control group, PA was measured with an otherwise similar monitor but which provided only the time of day and no feedback.

The convergent validity was examined between the agreement in time spent at different PA levels using Polar Active, mean amplitude deviation (MAD) of raw acceleration, and Actigraph with the Freedson thresholds. In the validation study, all three activity monitors were continuously used for two weeks by 41 volunteers.

The three-month trial had a short-term positive effect on daily moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) and sedentary time in the intervention group. The positive change in sedentary time was sustained for longer. During the six-month trial, a positive trend in favor of the intervention group was observed in daily MVPA. Low amount of daily vigorous PA at baseline was associated with the increase in MVPA. The functionalities of the mobile service related to PA were perceived as important and motivating, but the overall compliance with using the service and activity monitor remained low. In free-living conditions, the agreement between Polar Active, MAD, and Actigraph was dependent on the activity thresholds used and PA intensity.

The information provided by this study can be utilized in future development of technology-based health services for activating young people.
Last updated: 31.3.2021