Encouraging more activity outside of scheduled sessions is one way fitness professionals help clients succeed. A new study suggests that smartphones can be useful in this effort.

The study, supported by the American Heart Association and published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (2016; 18 [1]), featured 215 subjects (mostly female, mostly nonwhite). The purpose was to determine the effects of a 7-day smartphone intervention on activity habits. Throughout the 7 days, subjects received messages on the negative impact of prolonged sitting, and were given prompts encouraging them to move. They wore accelerometers to measure activity levels.

It turns out the intervention worked, with the messages effectively motivating participants to be more active throughout the day.

“A simple mobile phone intervention was associated with engaging in less sedentary time and more physical activity,” the researchers noted. “Findings underscore the potential impact of mobile phone interventions to positively influence sedentary behavior and physical activity.”