Seniors exercised actively in company challenges of Helsinki Physical Activity Programme

The City of Helsinki set an increase in physical activity as one of the main goals of its City Strategy for 2017–2021. Companies were also approached to seek solutions for fighting a sedentary lifestyle. In early 2021, we started a pilot project for companies to increase the activity of seniors living at home in Helsinki. The digital pilots were implemented with two companies, Rehaboo and Fustra. Based on the feedback from seniors, these pilots were seen as useful and increasing activity. Based on the pilots, the companies received several ideas for the development of their products, which will help them serve the senior target group even better in the future.

The products included in the pilots were the GeriActive game by Rehaboo and the Fustra Seniori app. In GeriActive by Rehaboo, the player character is steered through the player’s body movements. The game uses a computer’s or tablet’s camera to recognise movement and render them into the game in real time. As for the Fustra pilot, it was used to develop the Seniori app. The app is based on the Fustra coaching concept, and it offers an easy way of taking care of daily physical needs at home, without forgetting social needs. You can read more about the companies selected and their products here.

Pilots received praise from users

The participants of the Rehaboo pilot were seniors diagnosed with early-stage memory disorder. The game received positive feedback from the test users. Especially its easy-to-use technical features received praise, since users can steer the game by just moving their arms and legs. The game combines movement and cognitive skills, which was also liked by the user group.

“It was great to see how the target group started using our game independently on their own devices. During the pilot, we received vital feedback with which we have been able to develop the game for the market,” says Katju Lähteenaro, one of the founders of Rehaboo.

The results collected during Fustra’s pilot were also positive. “The Fustra Seniori app improved and supported users’ activity and increased their happiness with their wellbeing and ability to function. Furthermore, 85 per cent of users felt the Seniori app was useful,” says Juho Lahti, Account Manager at Fustra, delighted. The users were particularly happy with the app being easy to use: as many as 92 per cent of the test users felt using the app was easy or very easy.

Pilots with Helsinki offered plenty of new lessons for participating companies

The City of Helsinki aims to promote the testing of innovations that influence residents’ health and wellbeing by developing new solutions together with the end users and companies.

The pilot project did provide new development ideas for the companies. For example, in the Rehaboo pilot, it was noticed that the target group’s ability to function varies greatly from person to person, based on which various difficulty levels and more content were developed. In addition to this, an anonymous competitive element was also developed since the users wished to see competition. In the future, Fustra will develop its service based on the pilot to meet the needs of the target group better, e.g. by creating new levels for exercise.

“Through the pilots, Helsinki gained more knowledge about using digital devices with the target group of seniors living at home. Gamification and social elements are needed. With both companies, it was delightful to see how the products were developed to meet the needs of a diverse target group, even in a short timeframe,” says Sanna Hartman, Special Planning Officer from the Economic Development Department.

Now, two company pilots have been implemented within Helsinki’s Physical Activity Programme. In addition to seniors’ activity, the other theme was increasing the activity of City employees. Experiences of the company pilots are also available on the monitoring platform for the Physical Activity Programme, Liikkumisvahti.

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  • Sanna Hartman

  • Senior Advisor
    Health and Wellbeing Services, Health Capital Helsinki Cooperation
    City of Helsinki
    Economic Development: Innovations and New Experiments