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Virtual adviser helps older Latino adults get more exercise, Stanford researcher says
Date:8/14/2013

STANFORD, Calif. When it comes to getting motivated to exercise and do things that are good for our health, sometimes all it takes is a little help from our friends.

This was certainly the case for a group of older, Latino adults in Northern California: They benefited from the advice and encouragement of a virtual friend a physical-activity adviser named Carmen, a new study reports.

Individuals who participated in an exercise program guided by the virtual adviser had an eight-fold increase in walking compared with those who did not, according to the study, published online today in the Journal of Health Communication. Led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, it is believed to be among the first "e-health" studies geared toward a non-English speaking, older-adult population with low literacy.

"The results indicate that a virtual adviser delivering culturally and linguistically adapted physical activity advice led to meaningful four-month increases in walking relative to control among underserved older adults," the study says. "This interactive technology, which requires minimal language and computer literacy, may help reduce health disparities by ensuring that all groups benefit from 'e-health' opportunities."

The lead author of the study is Abby King, PhD, professor of health research and policy and of medicine, and director of the Healthy Aging Research & Technology Solutions laboratory at the Stanford Prevention Research Center.

Electronic games and programs that promote healthy habits have proliferated in recent years. King studies the effectiveness of those specifically targeted toward older adults and said she believes older adults represent the perfect population for such interventions. "[They] are at particular risk for the chronic diseases that can be positively influenced by reasonably modest improvements in physical activity," she and her co-authors write in the paper.'/>"/>

Contact: Susan Ipaktchian
susani@stanford.edu
650-725-5371
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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