A mobile application that motivates college students to get regular exercise by using contextual information.
A majority of college students in America do not get the exercise they need to stay healthy. College students have busy schedules that do not allow for regular exercise. As a result, a large number of college students aren’t getting enough exercise to stay healthy.
A mobile application for college students that serves as an exercise motivator by aiding students with time management, contextual just-in-time recommendations and social support.
Design Researcher, Interaction Designer
User Research (2 interviews)
We first did a thorough literature survey to avoid rediscovering information that has already been published. Having understood the problem space, we then designed a survey to back our findings from the literature. After looking at data for a larger population, we then conducted in-depth interviews in person to gain deeper insights.
What are the barriers that college students face to exercise?
What motivates college students to exercise? Who are their influencers?
What is missing in the current scenario?
Lack of time (external)
Stress and tiredness caused by study overload (external)
Not having facilities nearby/ or suitable for physical activities (external)
Lack of social support (external)
Not seeing value in physical activity (internal)
Lack of self efficacy (internal)
Reinforcement (that exercise is worthy and beneficial)
Students attending a university program. This includes freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate students and PhD students.
The survey received 51 responses. Although 94% of respondents indicated they wanted to be regular exercisers and 98% of the population had tried to develop an exercise routine in the past, a relatively large number of respondents (45.1%) indicated that the last time they exercised was more than two weeks ago. This helped us establish that the problem of not the amount of exercise required to stay healthy is prevalent within our local population (students at the University of Michigan).
Having gathered data from the survey, we conducted in-depth interviews to further understand how specific barriers and motivators affected exercising behavior of college students. Our participants were 5 students from the University of Michigan and all of them self-identified as non-regular exercisers. Each interviewee was asked if they identified as a regular exerciser and were asked to recall their last exercising experience.
Insight 1: Unsupportive time schedules prevent people from exercising. We found that a general perception of being busy all day prevents people from finding time to exercise.
“I feel so busy that I don’t think I have time for exercise.”
On further probing, we found that a possible explanation for not finding time to exercise is because people do not know how to monitor and systematically plan their schedules. “I don’t know which time I can use to do exercise in my busy life ”, X mentioned further expressing her worries due to a busy schedule. Another respondent, H, said “Even though I have some time, I don’t know that I can utilize it for exercise” talking about his inability to plan exercise time.
Insight 2: Reminders need to be contextually smart and timely
“I don’t like receiving notifications when I’m busy. For example, if I’m working on homework, I would just ignore it. But, if I receive a notification when I have some time, I am more likely to listen to that reminder.”
Insight 3: Social support is a strong motivator
“If there’s no friend inviting me to go with them, I don’t have enough motivation to go to the gym”.