The app will enable patients to assess their own fitness by measuring the distance they can walk in six minutes. It is also based on a validated fitness test which is used to measure effects of exercise interventions in medical patients.
In addition to measuring and monitoring physical fitness, it can act as a facilitator and motivator which can offer patients an incentive to boost their physical activity.
Initially, the app – named 6MW-app (Six-Minute Walk) – is being tested in trials with cancer patients but could potentially be used for those with other conditions.
The study is being led by Dr Liane Lewis, a research associate in Strathclyde’s Department of Computer and Information Sciences.
She said: “Measuring patients’ levels of fitness has many benefits in a clinical environment, such as assessment of pre-surgery fitness, a baseline measure for monitoring progress and facilitating conversation about physical activity.
“However, making these measurements is either resource-intensive, and therefore not easily accessible, or too subjective to be meaningful.
“We developed the Six-Minute Walk app for self-assessment of fitness using a mobile phone. Its simplicity could lead to it replacing current assessment practice and, unlike some other apps for walking, it measures fitness using a well-validated test developed for medical patients.
“The findings of our study will lead to the development of a tool that could improve levels of fitness and physical activity in healthy people and people living with illness alike.
“Clinicians have expressed interest in using the app as a tool for pre-surgery assessment and they see the potential for it to be a motivator for physical activity beyond clinical intervention.”
The app has been tested with healthy participants, who performed two fitness tests and completed a short survey. While the sample size was small, the results were found to be highly reliable and indicated that the app would be suitable for use in a non-supervised environment. Further tests are planned with a clinical population.