A prototype of a mobile application could make it easier to plan less difficult or less demanding walking routes outside the home, according to a press release from the University of York.
According to the release, researchers aimed to develop a practical, low-cost mobility aid to encourage older adults to engage in outdoor physical activity.
Called “Walking for Well-Being,” the application is available via smartphone or tablet and can detect steep slopes, uneven pavement, vehicle traffic and other avoidable hurdles. It can also highlight green spaces and other areas that could make the walk more pleasant, the release noted.
In developing the application, the researchers used information gathered through co-design workshops with older adults, gauging their needs and preferences. Their goal is to further develop the application and promote its widespread use, the release noted.
“We have worked with [nearly] a hundred people in later-life, listening to their needs and learning about the day-to-day challenges they face,” Mark Bevan, PhD, of the University of York Centre for Housing Policy, said in the release. “Participants discussed many of the things that would help improve getting out and about, and also helped co-design new tools to encourage mobility. In the context of an aging population, it is crucial to find creative ways of helping older and disabled people to negotiate the built environment without spending big sums on redesigning or adapting it.”
Disclosure: The researchers report funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council.