The Tangibility of Personalized 3D-Printed Feedback May Enhance Youths’ Physical Activity Awareness, Goal Setting, and Motivation: Intervention Study

Background: In the United Kingdom, most youth fail to achieve the
government guideline of 60 min of moderate to vigorous physical
activity (MVPA) daily. Reasons that are frequently cited for the
underachievement of this guideline include (1) a lack of awareness
of personal physical activity levels (PALs) and (2) a lack of
understanding of what activities and different intensities
contribute to daily targets of physical activity (PA).
Technological advances have enabled novel ways of representing PA
data through personalized tangible three-dimensional (3D) models.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the
efficacy of 3D-printed models to enhance youth awareness and
understanding of and motivation to engage in PA. Methods: A total
of 39 primary school children (22 boys; mean age 7.9 [SD 0.3]
years) and 58 secondary school adolescents (37 boys; mean age 13.8
[SD 0.3] years) participated in a 7-week fading intervention,
whereby participants were given 3D-printed models of their previous
week’s objectively assessed PALs at 4 time points. Following the
receipt of their 3D model, each participant completed a short
semistructured video interview (children, 4.5 [SD 1.2] min;
adolescents, 2.2 [SD 0.6] min) to assess their PA awareness,
understanding, and motivation. Data were transcribed verbatim and
thematically analyzed to enable key emergent themes to be further
explored and identified. Results: Analyses revealed that the 3D
models enhanced the youths’ awareness of and ability to recall
and self-evaluate their PA behaviors. By the end of the study, the
youths, irrespective of age, were able to correctly identify and
relate to the government’s PA guideline represented on the
models, despite their inability to articulate the government’s
guideline through time and intensity. Following the fourth 3D
model, 72% (71/97) of the youths used the models as a goal-setting
strategy, further highlighting such models as a motivational tool
to promote PA. Conclusions: The results suggest that 3D-printed
models of PA enhanced the youths’ awareness of their PA levels
and provided a motivational tool for goal setting, potentially
offering a unique strategy for future PA promotion.

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The Tangibility of Personalized 3D-Printed Feedback May Enhance Youths’ Physical Activity Awareness, Goal Setting, and Motivation: Intervention Study