A new study shows that patients who receive text messages from their doctors are more likely to exercise than those that don't.

According to recent findings published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, patients who received exercise reminders from their doctors via SMS walked, on average, 2,334 more steps per day than those that didn't.

The test was performed at an ambulatory cardiology center in Baltimore. Researchers split the test into three phases. In the first phase, all 48 volunteer test subjects, whose ages ranged from 18 to 69, were provided a fitness tracker but were not allowed to monitor their activity and did not receive any text messages. After a week, 16 volunteers were separated from the rest and instructed to continue as instructed for the first week. The remaining 32 volunteers were now allowed to monitor their activity on the fitness tracker. Two weeks later, researchers divided that larger group into two: one group received three text messages a day, the other continued without the text messages.

Researchers gave each group the goal of walking 10,000 steps per day over the course of the five week study. Text messages sent to the third group varied based on the individual's progress, either encouraging messages if they fell short of their goal or messages praising their progress if they achieved their goal.

Researchers found that the group that went the entire five week study without monitoring their activity on the fitness trackers performed the same or better as the group that was later allowed to check the tracker but did not receive texts. Each group had between 41 and 50 percent of the members achieve or exceed the 10,000 step goal.

In the final two weeks of the survey, the group that did receive the text messages showed significant improvement, as 81 percent of that group met or exceeded the step goal. They also showed a 23 percent increase in total activity in that period and a 160 percent jump in aerobic time.

While the results were impressive, researchers did say that longer studies across more diverse patient groups are needed to further support the claims. They did, however, confirm the importance of SMS to the results.

"The effect was dependent on the text message component of the intervention," they wrote in the study.

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