International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 64, Issue 5, pp 679–690 | Cite as

What is the role of smartphones on physical activity promotion? A systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Natan FeterEmail author
  • Tiago Silva dos Santos
  • Eduardo Lucia Caputo
  • Marcelo Cozzensa da Silva



To identify and evaluate the effect of interventions that used cell phones as a means to promote physical activity (PA).


The databases searched were MedLine/PubMed, Scopus, SPORTDiscus, PsycINFO, Science Direct, Lilacs, and SciELO. After removing duplicates, applying exclusion criteria, and checking the reference lists, 45 studies were reviewed. The Downs and Black (D&B) scale measured methodological quality, and a random effect model was used to compute the meta-analysis of PA by the reported unit (minutes per day or steps per day), delivery agent (application (APP), SMS, or other), and PA measurement (questionnaire, accelerometer, pedometer).


Mobile phone-based PA interventions were efficient in increasing both minutes [10.49; CI (3.37–17.60); p = 0.004] and steps per day [735.17; CI (227.72–1242.61); p = 0.005] in adults when compared to baseline. Furthermore, APP-based interventions were able to increase the number of steps (p = 0.04) and minutes per day of PA (p = 0.04) in adults. Also, 85% of included manuscripts were classified as moderate- to high-quality articles.


Mobile phone-based PA interventions, inclusive those delivery by APP, were effective to increase minutes and steps per day in adults.


Physical activity Interventions Mobile devices Adults 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

38_2019_1210_MOESM1_ESM.docx (479 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 480 kb)


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Natan Feter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tiago Silva dos Santos
    • 1
  • Eduardo Lucia Caputo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marcelo Cozzensa da Silva
    • 1
  1. 1.Federal University of PelotasPelotasBrazil
  2. 2.University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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