Are There Health Benefits to Using a Fitness App?


CarolinaFireJournal - By Karen Leatherman
By Karen Leatherman
01/12/2016 -

With all the fitness apps to choose from, finding the one that works for you can be overwhelming. But, once you find a good one, they can be very beneficial to making your fitness workouts successful. Most fitness apps allow us to log a lot of information about our activity and eating habits in a short period of time. Keeping track of that information can provide the motivation you need to keep you on the right path. Many of these apps are free and can sync with other devices, which makes tracking even easier. Devices that we can wear, such as Fit Bit, Polar and Garmin are just a few of the most popular ones available, so we can see right away what we’ve accomplished.  Mywellness is also compatible with a multitude of apps, syncing diet, activity and biometric measurements to one location.                                                                                                               

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It depends on what benefits or features you are looking for, be it heart rate tracking, weight loss, daily steps, cardio and strength workouts or even blood pressure and sleep monitoring. Even if you are just looking for motivating music to workout with, there’s an app for that too. Here are a few of the popular apps that are out there

Polar

Polar Flow app is free with the following Polar products: Loop, Loop 2, A300, M400, M450, V800, Polar Beat and V650. It includes steps, sleep and heart rate training. It works with or without their Bluetooth heart rate monitor. If you are interested in heart rate training this is the gold standard.

MyFitnessPal

This is a free app that you can log in your food, exercise, water intake and weight. Overall, it is a great app to use daily and one of the easiest. The food diary is easy to use and the list of foods includes all major fast food chains, major food brands and you can customize it with your own foods you make at home. The food diary can quickly analyze what you have eaten and break your calories down into carbs, fats and proteins and even macronutrients. The major benefit of this app is that it allows you to set goals and keeps you accountable for what you eat and do throughout the day. MyFitnessPal easily syncs to most devices and commercial grade gym equipment such as Technogym.

Garmin

Garmin Connect is a free app for your online training tool to store, analyze and share all your fitness activities. Join millions of users who run, bike, swim and hike. Garmin Connect works seamlessly with your Garmin device and supports all your fitness goals.

MapmyFitness

This is another free app that is particularly popular with runners and cyclists because of its GPS capabilities to track your course and mileage. You can design your own run or bike course, name it and let others use it as well. If you are in to posting and sharing your workouts with the actual map of what you did, this is an app for that. Building a community network to share is a big benefit of this app.

Fitbit

The free Fitbit app is designed to work with Fitbit activity trackers and smart scales. It also includes food tracking and heart rate tracking that is done from the wrist. There are some accuracy problems during high intensity activities.

So, we have all the information, the question is, how useful or beneficial is it? Most of these fitness apps listed, seem to have a common thread that people are looking for. Motivation, ease of use, information, accountability and being a part of a community seem to be what most people are looking for. Of all these I believe the most important is accountability because the information these apps gather over time allows us to see habits we have formed and then change them as needed. Therefore we can track progress and success. When we make progress with weight loss or develop a faster pace in our runs, we know that having the initial information when we first started tracking and then comparing it to where we are now, allows us to see positive changes and figure out what to do next. Earlier I mentioned the mywellness app by Technogym. It helps keep you moving forward. It sets new goals each week automatically depending on what you did last week.

Knowledge is the key when it comes to our personal health and fitness. One size does not fit all and the same goes for fitness apps. Find the one that works for you based on what you need to live a healthy life.

Karen Leatherman is president/owner of Fitness Forum Occupational Testing Services. She started the first hospital-based fitness center in South Carolina where she started cardiac and pulmonary rehab programs. She has over 30 years performing exercise stress testing and has been testing firefighters for over 20 years. In addition, she was on the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), Health and Fitness Certification Committee where she travelled with a team from the U.S. to India and Hong Kong to teach and administer ACSM exams.
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Issue 33.3 | Winter 2018

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