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  • Apple Announces System to Coordinate Health Apps

    Apple has announced that a new suite of in-device software coming to its next operating system (iOS8) will allow users' health data to be coordinated between separate health-related apps, making it possible to create a customizable health data dashboard that could be shared with health care providers. Called "HealthKit," the new system was unveiled on June 2 at Apple's Worldwide Developers' Conference.

    Currently, health-related apps such as Fitbit, Nike Run, and iBP Blood Pressure capture specific data that can only be accessed through that particular app, creating information silos that can make it difficult for consumers to get a more wholistic picture of their health. According to an article in Macworld, the HealthKit system, through its outward-facing Health app, "is designed to give users a big-picture look at their entire health profile: exercise, sleep, eating, and even metrics like blood pressure and glucose levels."

    Nike, Fitbit, and iHealth will be among the first apps to be integrated into Health. Apple also announced a partnership with the Mayo Clinic to develop an app that evaluates individual patient metrics that in turn can be shared with a health care provider—or prompt the health care provider to contact the patient directly.

    Exercise By Any Other Name Just a Bit Sweeter, According to Study

    What's in a name? Calories, apparently.

    According to a recently published open access article in Marketing Letters, men and women who think a physical activity program is meant to be "fun" and not "exercise" tend to make healthier after-activity food choices.

    Authors describe an experiment in which 56 healthy adult women were given maps of an outdoor 1-mile walking route and told that they would be served lunch after the walk. The women were then divided into 2 groups: one group was told that the walk was exercise and that they should be aware of their performance around the course; the other group was provided with headphones and music and asked to think about the sound quality of the music while enjoying themselves as they walked.

    At the post-walk lunch, the women who were told they were exercising reported feeling more tired and irritable than the women who were walking for pleasure, and they tended to consume more sugary foods.

    The general results were the same in a follow-up experiment in which 2 groups consisting of both women and men were instructed to walk a 1-mile route, with one group told they would be exercising, and the other told they would be sightseeing. When invited to help themselves to candy after the walk, the "exercise" group generally took more candy than the "sightseeing" group.

    In a subsequent experiment, runners completing a marathon relay race were asked whether they had enjoyed their experience, and then were offered the choice of a chocolate bar or cereal bar as a snack. Researchers found that runners who said they didn't enjoy themselves tended to opt for the chocolate bar.

    "Across 3 studies, in both lab and field settings, we found that framing a physical activity as fun (vs exercise) influenced participants' subsequent behavior," authors write, noting that the effects were consistent after controlling for BMI. The study was the focus of a recent blog post in the New York Times.

    Research-related stories featured in News Now are intended to highlight a topic of interest only and do not constitute an endorsement by APTA. For synthesized research and evidence-based practice information, visit the association's PTNow website.