Older Latinos Can Get More Exercise through Virtual Adviser


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It’s difficult for many people to get motivated to exercise, but now they have a new friend to get them going.   Her name is “Carmen” and she is a virtual physical-activity advisor.
A new study indicates, a group of older Latinos who participated in a Stanford University study in which they were guided by the virtual adviser had an eight-fold increase in walking compared with those who did not.
Published online in the Journal of Health Communication, the study is believed to be among the first “e-health” studies geared toward a non-English speaking, older-adult population with low literacy.
Researchers said the results indicate that a ‘virtual adviser delivering culturally and linguistically adapted physical activity advice’ led to  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 study included low-income, older, Latino adults and the digital adviser was modified to fit in with local Latino culture and to offer interactions in English or Spanish.  40 inactive adults, ages 55 and older, from a primarily Latino population in San Jose, California participated.
Coached by “Carmen”, study participants during a four-month period were taught to use a pedometer to track their daily steps, personalized feedback, problem-solving and goal-setting were also provided.