Integrating a Gamified Digital Application in Naturebased Settings to Improve Physical Activity and Health Outcomes Among Central Pennsylvanians: Using a Socioecological, Cross-disciplinary Guiding Framework

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Objectives: We evaluated the effectiveness of a community-facilitated, digital application intervention at increasing physical activity in central Pennsylvania. Methods: We employed a game-based digital application within partnership-guided, nature-based programming to encourage physical activity. Partnerships with local healthcare and park/ recreation entities were established to facilitate recruitment and intervention sustenance. Self-reported psychological and physiological changes were evaluated in a repeated-measures design, contextualized by thematic coding of qualitative responses, and interpreted via the Park Prescription Theory of Change. Results: Partnerships were formed among 3 local healthcare entities, Berks Nature, and community organizations to conduct the intervention. There were increases in physical activity duration and time spent outdoors. We identified positive, consistent trends in perceptions of healthful behaviors and quality of life, health satisfaction, and perceived accessibility and barriers. There were low rates of allergies or wheezing. The game-based application improved sentiments of belongingness and familial engagement. These findings mostly aligned with the Park Prescription Theory of Change. Conclusions: An innovative, cross-disciplinary means to improve physical activity can inform approaches at the regional or national level, as well as guide legislative efforts in public health, environmental policy, and urban planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-121
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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