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Exploring the potential of technology to promote exercise snacking for older adults who are prefrail in the home setting: user-centered design study.

Stawarz, Katarzyna; Liang, Ian Ju; Alexander, Lyndsay; Carlin, Angela; Wijekoon, Anjana; Western, Max J.


Katarzyna Stawarz

Ian Ju Liang

Angela Carlin

Max J. Western


Older adults have an increased risk of falls, injury, and hospitalization. Maintaining/increasing participation in physical activity (PA) into older age can prevent some of the age-related declines in physical functioning that may contribute to loss of independence and lower reported quality of life. 'Exercise snacking' has been created to overcome some commonly cited barriers to exercise and encourage older adults to engage in muscle strength and balance activity, but the best way to deliver and support this novel format remains unknown. Our aim was to explore: a) how the novel 'exercise snacking' approach, i.e. incorporating short bouts of strength and balance activities into everyday routines, could be supported by technology within a home setting; and b) what types of technologies would be acceptable for pre-frail older adults. Two design workshops (Study 1) were conducted, to understand older adults' (n=11, aged 69-89 years old) attitudes towards technology aimed at supporting exercise snacking at home and to inform the design of interactive prototypes. Based on the findings of Study 1, a feasibility home evaluation (Study 2) was conducted over one day for two prototypes (n=5 participants, aged 69-80). Participants were interviewed over the telephone afterwards about their experience. Transcripts were analyzed using Framework analysis. Results showed participants were positive towards using technology at home to support exercise snacking, but both the exercises and technology would need to be simple and match participants' everyday routines. Workshop discussions (Study 1) led to the design of two prototypes using a pressure mat to support resistance and balance exercises. The home evaluation (Study 2) identified that participants reported potential in using smart devices to support exercise snacking, but the low fidelity of the prototypes influenced participants' attitudes towards them. It also hampered the acceptability of these initial versions and highlighted challenges in fitting exercise snacking into everyday life. The study concluded that older adults were positive about using technology in their homes to support strength and balance exercise snacking. We have identified key points around the suitability of the home environment for facilitating exercise snacking. While promising, the initial prototypes' further refinement and optimization prior to feasibility, acceptability and efficacy testing is required. Developers and researchers can use these findings to inform the development and evaluation of more sophisticated technologies for integration in the home environment to support PA.


STAWARZ, K., LIANG, I.J., ALEXANDER, L., CARLIN, A., WIJEKOON, A. and WESTERN, M. 2023. Exploring the potential of technology to promote exercise snacking for older adults who are prefrail in the home setting: user-centered design study. JMIR aging [online], 6, article e41810. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 26, 2023
Online Publication Date May 24, 2023
Publication Date Dec 31, 2023
Deposit Date Jun 9, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jun 9, 2023
Journal JMIR aging
Print ISSN 2561-7605
Electronic ISSN 2561-7605
Publisher JMIR Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 6
Article Number e41810
Keywords Older people; Exercise; Preventative physiotherapy; Physical activity; Internet of Things; User-centered design; Qualitative research; Mobile phone
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Additional Information This article has been published with separate supporting information. This supporting information has been incorporated into a single file on this repository and can be found at the end of the file associated with this output.
The preprint / author original version of this article is available online from Preprints ( ) and JMIR Preprints ( ).


STAWARZ 2023 Exploring the potential of technology (VOR) (1.8 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
© Katarzyna Stawarz, Ian Ju Liang, Lyndsay Alexander, Angela Carlin, Anjana Wijekoon, Max J Western. Originally published in JMIR Aging (, 24.05.2023. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Aging, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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