Call of the gym

Times Staff Writer

CellPHONES and PDAs can do more than ensure we stay in touch and keep appointments. A new study shows that middle-aged and older people who received daily reminders to exercise from PDAs put in more than twice as much moderate to vigorous exercise than those without the devices.

Such cues “bring the priority of exercise back to the top of the list,” says Abby King, lead author of the study and a professor of health research and policy, and medicine, at the Stanford University School of Medicine. “You could be trying to get a report out at work, and all of a sudden that priority slips, and this brings it back up.”

The pilot study, published this month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, gave PDAs to 19 fairly sedentary men and women who were taught how to use the gadgets and encouraged to do at least 150 minutes of moderate or more vigorous exercise a week (most did brisk walking).

The 18-person control group received standard written material about the importance of exercise. At the end of eight weeks, the study group exercised an average of 310 minutes a week; the control group averaged 125 minutes.