Studies evaluate effectiveness of fitness apps

Studies have proven that thirty minutes of daily moderate activity can reduce health risks, according to WebMD. Not only does exercise increase energy levels, it also comes with many health benefits. These can include lower blood pressure, and decreased stress. Nowadays, it is becoming more and more difficult for students to find time to squeeze in a workout within their busy schedules. The prevalence of mobile technology, especially fitness apps on smartphones, offers innovative, new approaches to this problem.

“Technology is helping us become more knowledgeable in the fitness world,” Nick Skala, Boys’ Baseball Coach, said.

Apps like Nike Training Club, Argus and Fitocracy offer a wide range of utilities, including  cardio workouts,  strength workouts, tutorials, programs and workout logs. Fitness apps can improve exercise habits, according to Skala.

A new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that using a smartphone was more effective in helping people lose weight and improve their overall health, as opposed to tracking diets on paper.

“Fitness apps are helpful because it’s almost like having a workout partner,” Skala said. “The app I use, Fitness Buddy, allows you to personalize your own workout and tells you exactly what exercises you should do. It makes planning workouts much easier.”

However, this does not mean that simply downloading a workout app will help someone achieve their desired results. There are other factors involved in reaching an objective.

“The biggest aspect for change is forming a habit,” Jill Lipman, Physical Welfare Director, said. “You need to get your body into the routine of exercising.”

Along with routine, motivation plays a role in goal attaining. Studies have yet to prove fitness apps have the ability to instill this ambition. In a recent study, researchers from the Department of Kinesiology at Pennsylvania State evaluated health care apps on their capability to provide potentially motivating reminders for healthy habits. They found the most common services the apps offered were educational, such as instruction and feedback on progress. Some of the apps provided goal setting and planning techniques, but none of them displayed other proven exercise motivators such as time management or self-talk.

“Motivation is intrinsic,” Adam Kehoe, Physical Education Teacher said. “These apps might be useful in helping you achieve your fitness goals, but it does depend on your personality, each person is different.”

Fitness apps were primarily invented to help make exercise more attainable for everyone. Regardless of personal opinion about app functionality, smartphones offer new approaches in the world of exercise.

“Technology today allows us to track our own fitness and activity levels in ways that we might not have had before,” Lipman said.

Despite these new medical advancements in technology, in the long run, it is always going to be up to the individual to put in the effort to make healthy choices, Kehoe said. Fitness apps provide some facilitation during the process.

“We all use our smartphones every day, so why not use them to better our health?” Skala said.