WEDNESDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Using personal digital assistants (PDAs) to give daily feedback to adults about their fitness progress helps them stick with an exercise program, a new study says.

University of Pittsburgh researchers followed 189 overweight adults for six months. The participants were assigned to one of three self-monitoring programs -- paper records only, PDA without daily feedback messages, or PDA with daily feedback messages.

An example of a message for participants who met their exercise goals for the day: "Super job on the physical activity. Try to repeat this tomorrow."

For those who didn't achieve their daily goal, the message might have said: "Don't get disheartened; you still have time to meet your physical activity goals. Hint: Take a walk; it will pay off!"

Adults who received the PDA messages were most likely to stick with their exercise program, and adherence was associated with high physical activity levels and weight loss.

The study was published this month in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

"Offering real-time feedback not only allows a person to make adjustments to the exercise program as needed but also holds people accountable to staying on track," lead author Dr. Molly Conroy said in a journal news release. "The feedback message tells the participant that 'someone' is paying attention, and this could provide powerful, positive reinforcement for exercising and achieving his or her goals."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases outlines weight loss for life.