Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Understanding Older Individuals' Emotional Responses to New Technology Associated with Healthy Lifestyle Choice

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Understanding Older Individuals' Emotional Responses to New Technology Associated with Healthy Lifestyle Choice

Article excerpt


The world's population is aging as a result of improvements in public health and hygiene, technological developments, and advances in health care (Ahn, Beamish, & Goss, 2008). The population aged 65 and over is one of the fastest growing age groups. According to U.S. Census Bureau, older adults aged 65 and over will soon outnumber children under the age of 5. Moreover, the world population aged 80 and over will more than double between the years 2008 and 2040 (2008 Census Data, 2009).

As the number of older adults increases and life expectancy gets longer there is a growing interest regarding the effect of healthy lifestyles on quality of life in the older adult population. Quality of life is generally influenced by the combination of a person's physical condition, self-perceptions, observable behaviors, and life circumstances (Hooyman & Kiyak, 2008). Quality of life also depends on the emotional interpretation and subjectivity of the individual (Xavier, Ferraz, Marc, Escosteguy, & Moriguchi, 2003). Thus, quality of life is closely related to healthy lifestyle choices (Lowry, 2010). A healthy lifestyle is one of the most important determinants to decrease the probability of health problems in later life (Lyons & Langille, 2000). A healthy lifestyle generally includes physical activity, healthy eating, maintaining optimal weight, moderate alcohol consumption, and not smoking (King, Mainous III, Carnemolla, & Everett, 2009).

Compelling evidence exists which shows that technologies enable older adults to be more active and to improve their quality of life. For example, activity monitoring technology, including pedometers and mobile phone applications, may help raise awareness in older adults regarding their physical activity levels (Consolvo, Everitt, Smith, & Landay, 2006). Some technologies can be a powerful and potential tool to help older adults become more physically, mentally, and socially active. Numerous studies have explored the potential role of technology to help motivate older adults to adopt a healthy lifestyle. For example, de Blok et al (2006) reported that pedometers enable older adults to accurately monitor their physical activity by helping to establish visible goals for increasing physical activity. Similarly, Hurling et al. (2007) studied the effectiveness of using internet and mobile technology to motivate older adults' healthy lifestyles. Technology use may have a positive impact on older adults' healthy aging and quality of life (Topo, 2009).

Unfortunately, only small percentages of older adults have been using new technology to improve their quality of life. For example, In 2010, only 31% of American older adults used a high speed internet connection compared with 75% of adults aged 30-49 and 63% of adults aged 50-64 years (Smith, 2010). American Association of Retired Persons (Keenan, 2009) reported that only 48% of adults aged 65 and older are currently using computers while 78% of adults aged 50-64 years use computers. Notably, older adults aged 65 and over were found to be less likely to use the internet or a computer in the future due to lack of interest. Two studies (Smith, 2010; Adler & SeniorNet, 2006) reported that older adults were much less willing to use technology in comparison with younger adults. Thus, it is valuable to understand why many older adults appear to be indifferent to technology use and how we can help older adults to adopt these potentially useful tools. Table 1 shows recent researches associated with technology use and older adults' healthy lifestyle choice.

The purpose of this study was to understand the perceptual and emotional responses of older adults towards existing and emerging technological products. More specifically, the study had two objectives. First, we focused on understanding older adults' emotions and perceptions when they encounter new technology. Second, we aimed to understand factors influencing their technological purchase decision-making. …

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