A1 Journal article (refereed)
Clusters of Adolescent Physical Activity Tracker Patterns and Their Associations With Physical Activity Behaviors in Finland and Ireland : Cross-Sectional Study (2020)

Ng, K., Kokko, S., Tammelin, T., Kallio, J., Belton, S., O'Brien, W., Murphy, M., Powell, C., & Woods, C. (2020). Clusters of Adolescent Physical Activity Tracker Patterns and Their Associations With Physical Activity Behaviors in Finland and Ireland : Cross-Sectional Study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(9), Article e18509. https://doi.org/10.2196/18509

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Ng, Kwok; Kokko, Sami; Tammelin, Tuija; Kallio, Jouni; Belton, Sarahjane; O'Brien, Wesley; Murphy, Marie; Powell, Cormac; Woods, Catherine

Journal or series: Journal of Medical Internet Research

ISSN: 1439-4456

eISSN: 1438-8871

Publication year: 2020

Volume: 22

Issue number: 9

Article number: e18509

Publisher: JMIR Publications

Publication country: Canada

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2196/18509

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/71645


Physical activity trackers (PATs), such as applications (Apps) and wearable devices (e.g. sport watches and heart rate monitors), are increasingly being used by young adolescents. Despite the potential to monitor and improve moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) behaviours, there is a lack of research that confirms an association between PATs ownership or use, and physical activity (PA) behaviours at a population level.

The purpose of this study was to examine ownership and use of PATs in youth, and the associations with PA behaviours including daily MVPA, sport club membership and active travel, in two nationally representative samples of young adolescent males and females in Finland and Ireland.

Comparable data were gathered in the Finnish School-aged Physical Activity (F-SPA 2018; n=3311) and the Irish Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity (CSPPA 2018; n=4797) studies. A cluster analysis was performed to obtain the patterns of PAT ownership and usage by adolescents (age 11y –15y). Four similar clusters were identified across Finnish and Irish adolescents: 1) no PAT, 2) PAT owners, 3) Apps users, and 4) wearable device users. Adjusted binary logistic regression analyses were used to evaluate how PATs clusters were associated with PA behaviours, including daily MVPA, membership of sport clubs and active travel, after stratification by gender.

The amount of Apps ownership among Finnish adolescents (61.5%) was almost double that of their Irish counterparts (36.2%). Apps and wearable device users were, respectively, more likely to take part in daily MVPA (males: OR=1.27, CI=1.04-1.55; OR=1.83, CI=1.49-2.23; females: OR=1.49, CI=1.20-1.85; OR=2.25, CI=1.80-2.82), be members of sport clubs (males: OR=1.37, CI=1.15-1.62; OR=1.88, 1.55-2.28; females: OR=1.25, CI=1.07-1.50; OR=2.07, CI=1.71-2.52), compared to no PAT cluster, after adjusting for country, age, family affluence and disabilities. Significant associations were observed between male wearable device users and taking part in active travel behaviours (OR=1.39, CI=1.04-1.86).

Although Finnish adolescents report more ownership of PAT than Irish adolescents, the patterns of use and ownership remain similar. PA behaviours were positively associated with wearable devices users and Apps users. These findings were similar between males and females. Given the cross-sectional nature of this data, the relationship between using Apps or wearable devices and enhancing PA behaviours remains unclear. Clinical Trial: Not necessary

Keywords: preteen children; physical activeness; exercise habits; physical hobbies; sports technology; mobile apps

Free keywords: wearables; children; activity trackers; active travel; organised sport; self-quantification

Contributing organizations

Related projects

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

JUFO rating: 2

Last updated on 2022-14-09 at 11:47