Heart Steps: Adaptive mobile health intervention for physical activity maintenance

Many of the risk factors for heart disease are behavioral, such as physical inactivity, smoking, and diets high in saturated and trans-fats. Cardiac rehabilitation and other prevention programs are effective in helping cardiac patients make the initial lifestyle changes needed to reduce their risks, but patients often fail to sustain those changes after the program ends.

With a grant from the National Institutes of Health, Assistant Professor Predrag Klasnja is working to develop a personalized, adaptive health application to encourage cardiac rehabilitation patients to maintain physical activity.

Start date: 12/1/2014
End date: 11/30/2019

Read More

As the principal investigator on this project, Klasnja leads a team developing an application that will help cardiac patients monitor and maintain their physical activity after they have finished rehabilitation. 

Many patients are able to manage risk factors such as physical inactivity, smoking, and high-fat diets while they are in rehabilitation, but tend to struggle to sustain these lifestyle changes once the program ends.

By taking advantage of the frequent interactions that people have with their mobile phones throughout the day, the investigators will design and evaluate an adaptive, personalized application that keeps patients reminded of their health goals, increasing the likelihood that they will notice opportunities to engage in physical activity.

The application will also provide actionable ideas for how patients can be active and help them plan and reflect on their physical activity in order to build and maintain physical-activity habits. In addition, the application will adapt its functioning over time for each patient in order to lessen the burden users would encounter. 

A user-centered design process will examine the technology’s design requirements and the system will be evaluated in a year-long study with 60 coronary artery disease patients. The success of the project could provide cardiac patients with continuously available support to stay physically active in their daily lives and give researches a deeper understanding of technical and design requirements for long-term behavior-changing technologies.


Heart Steps: Adaptive mHealth intervention for physical-activity maintenance, National Institutes of Health: $1,887,315


The National Institutes of Health is made up of 27 different Institutes and Centers, each with a specific research agenda. NIH’s mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the apply that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.