Self-monitoring of outdoor activity time can lead to better control of myopia.
“Why did you create an outdoor activity tracker?” asked a friend of mine after reading what my son was doing to control his myopia.
It was then that I realized I applied important learning from the diabetes educator medical education events that I used to help out years ago.
I remember during some of these sessions learning research studies that indicated self-monitoring of blood glucose might lead to long-term lower levels of average blood glucose (1). It was also the time I learned that with good volitional control, one might be able to keep diabetes in check.
Some important factors for it to work are 1) a system that connects behavior to what is measured, 2) the measurement should be done objectively and ease to do, 3) patients create and implement action plans that fit the daily lives that they will follow through, and 4) positive reinforcement to perpetual the desired behavior change long-term.
These were the reasons I started looking for an outdoor activity tracker but ended up developing one – to ensure simplicity. Furthermore, as my son will be the one practicing volitional control, co-creating one with him brought ownership and understanding of why doing this.
Since the first version that I shared, my son and I discussed his thoughts on the tracker and if there is anything we should change.
In a nutshell, he was happy doing the trackers each night because he got to see the total points until that evening and how many more he would need to get his reward. It also helped him figure out how long he was outside, which he knew could help manage his myopia. The coloring part was fun and made tallying easy. And the colored bars looked like puzzle pieces on a treasure map or the keys to his prize.
Coloring makes counting up fun and easy. See, I got enough time for my fox farm lego.
Here is where we landed on the activity tracker, including what we agreed on or the learning so far.
- Each month, we would agree on a prize and the points needed. They are put on the top of the tracker. As a starting point and for simplicity, I multiplied the price of the prize by a factor of five to estimate the points needed.
- His activity target is 2 hours each day with a minimum of 75 minutes per day.
- If he didn’t complete the minimum 75 min outdoor time, his 30 minutes of iPad game time the next day would be replaced with outdoor activities.
- If daylight brightness is less than 3,000 lux on a dark cloudy, or rainy day, the minimum outdoor time is waived. The brightness level is determined by using a light meter app available on smart devices.
- He should complete the outdoor activity sheet each evening. We agreed that it is by 6 pm for the summer so that if he wants to get more outdoor activity time, he can. Further, every 30 min is one point. The smallest unit is 15 min and is half a point.
I am providing the outdoor activity tracker with the latest update. You can download the PDF file for your personal use. (I am planning to send my son’s progress and our learning in newsletters for those of you who registered. Sign-up to receive the latest update as the story develops.)
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1. Kirk, J. K., & Stegner, J. (2010). Self-monitoring of blood glucose: practical aspects. Journal of diabetes science and technology, 4(2), 435–439. https://doi.org/10.1177/193229681000400225