According to a pilot study, using smartphone reminders to prompt people to get moving may help reduce sedentary behaviour, increase activity and reduce chances of weight gain, higher body mass index (BMI) and obesity.

To explore this, researchers Darla E Kendzor from University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre and Kerem Shuval from American Cancer Society looked at if smartphone interventions have the potential to influence sedentary behaviour.

Participants wore accelerometers to measure movement and carried smartphones for seven consecutive days. Participants who reported more than two hours of sitting during the day received a message emphasising that long uninterrupted sitting is bad for health.

It encouraged them to stand up and move around more and to sit less. Over the seven-day study period, participants had significantly fewer minutes of daily sedentary time and more daily minutes of active time than controls.

Accelerometers recorded three percent less sedentary time than control participants, equalling about 25 minutes of time spent engaged in activity rather than in sedentary behaviour on any given day.