User Interest in Digital Health Technologies to Encourage Physical Activity: Results of a Survey in Students and Staff of a German University

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2017 Apr 19;5(4):e51. doi: 10.2196/mhealth.7192.


Background: Although the benefits for health of physical activity (PA) are well documented, the majority of the population is unable to implement present recommendations into daily routine. Mobile health (mHealth) apps could help increase the level of PA. However, this is contingent on the interest of potential users.

Objective: The aim of this study was the explorative, nuanced determination of the interest in mHealth apps with respect to PA among students and staff of a university.

Methods: We conducted a Web-based survey from June to July 2015 in which students and employees from the University of Potsdam were asked about their activity level, interest in mHealth fitness apps, chronic diseases, and sociodemographic parameters.

Results: A total of 1217 students (67.30%, 819/1217; female; 26.0 years [SD 4.9]) and 485 employees (67.5%, 327/485; female; 42.7 years [SD 11.7]) participated in the survey. The recommendation for PA (3 times per week) was not met by 70.1% (340/485) of employees and 52.67% (641/1217) of students. Within these groups, 53.2% (341/641 students) and 44.2% (150/340 employees)-independent of age, sex, body mass index (BMI), and level of education or professional qualification-indicated an interest in mHealth fitness apps.

Conclusions: Even in a younger, highly educated population, the majority of respondents reported an insufficient level of PA. About half of them indicated their interest in training support. This suggests that the use of personalized mobile fitness apps may become increasingly significant for a positive change of lifestyle.

Keywords: healthy lifestyle; physical activity; primary prevention; telemedicine.