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Importance: Studies have established the importance of physical activity and fitness, yet limited data exist on the associations between objective, real-world physical activity patterns, fitness, sleep, and cardiovascular health. Objectives: To assess the feasibility of obtaining measures of physical activity, fitness, and sleep from smartphones and to gain insights into activity patterns associated with life satisfaction and self-reported disease. Design, Setting, and Participants: The MyHeart Counts smartphone app was made available in March 2015, and prospective participants downloaded the free app between March and October 2015. In this smartphone-based study of cardiovascular health, participants recorded physical activity, filled out health questionnaires, and completed a 6-minute walk test. The app was available to download within the United States. Main Outcomes and Measures: The feasibility of consent and data collection entirely on a smartphone, the use of machine learning to cluster participants, and the associations between activity patterns, life satisfaction, and self-reported disease. Results: From the launch to the time of the data freeze for this study (March to October 2015), the number of individuals (self-selected) who consented to participate was 48 968, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Their median age was 36 years (interquartile range, 27-50 years), and 82.2% (30 338 male, 6556 female, 10 other, and 3115 unknown) were male. In total, 40 017 (81.7% of those who consented) uploaded data. Among those who consented, 20 345 individuals (41.5%) completed 4 of the 7 days of motion data collection, and 4552 individuals (9.3%) completed all 7 days. Among those who consented, 40 017 (81.7%) filled out some portion of the questionnaires, and 4990 (10.2%) completed the 6-minute walk test, made available only at the end of 7 days. The Heart Age Questionnaire, also available after 7 days, required entering lipid values and age 40 to 79 years (among 17 245 individuals, 43.1% of participants). Consequently, 1334 (2.7%) of those who consented completed all fields needed to compute heart age and a 10-year risk score. Physical activity was detected for a mean (SD) of 14.5% (8.0%) of individuals' total recorded time. Physical activity patterns were identified by cluster analysis. A pattern of lower overall activity but more frequent transitions between active and inactive states was associated with equivalent self-reported cardiovascular disease as a pattern of higher overall activity with fewer transitions. Individuals' perception of their activity and risk bore little relation to sensor-estimated activity or calculated cardiovascular risk. Conclusions and Relevance: A smartphone-based study of cardiovascular health is feasible, and improvements in participant diversity and engagement will maximize yield from consented participants. Large-scale, real-world assessment of physical activity, fitness, and sleep using mobile devices may be a useful addition to future population health studies.

Original publication




Journal article


JAMA Cardiol

Publication Date





67 - 76