It’s been reported that 55% of adult smartphone users have at least one health and fitness app on their smartphone. Whether it’s a pedometer, a calorie tracker, a diet planner or an exercise guide, health and fitness is a serious category for smartphone users. And with the recent announcement of Healthbook, Apple is going to integrate fitness tracking directly into mobile devices along with iOS 8.
So what is it that makes fitness apps so popular? We live in an age where people are more conscious of their appearance, and the ease of access to these kind of apps make it easier then before to keep yourself fit and healthy. But for me, the social aspect also has something to do with it. After going for a run you can see how you fare against your work colleagues, or you can ask advice from dieters who live on the other side of the World. Of course, competitiveness is a huge motivator, as everybody wants those bragging rights!
So, as a user of fitness apps myself (despite my plump appearance!) I have used my fair share of fitness apps in the past, some have worked, some haven’t. The apps that I found worked better where ones that allowed me to compare my progress with other people – the ones with social integration. Here is a list of some of the apps I have used, as well as other apps that have worked for some of my friends and family. Who knows, they could work for you too!
Nike+ was probably the first mainstream fitness app. Originally starting as a pedometer you placed in some specially designed trainers, Nike+ has made the shift to iOS, and is a perfect integration to devices such as the iPod nano. Nike+ is primarily aimed at tracking distance running, with preset distances including 2k, 5k and 10k. Once you have completed your run, you can upload your results to a specially designed web hub. The site rewards you with Nike points after every run, and you get rewarded with medals after hitting certain milestones. You can also share your times on Facebook and Twitter, and you can even compare times and challenge your Facebook friends, proving who in the office really can run the fastest!
Noom Weight Coach
Noom originally started on Android before proting recently to iOS. Noom is an ‘all in one’ app, meaning that it can help track your calorie intake and workouts, as well as running/walking distances. Noom is unique in that, when tracking your food intake, it doesn’t ask you for the amount in specific grams, but in understandable units, such as a handful of grapes or a small glass of wine (apparently they exist). Noom also has a community feature built into the app, very much like an online forum. Here people can ask other users for advice, as well as share any success stories. Seeing other people like you share their successes can really motivate you into seeing your health plan out.
Endomondo Sports Tracker
Endomondo is another popular cross-platform pedometer. Whilst aimed primarily at runners, joggers etc., it can track your performance across any distance based sport, and even works with certain heart monitors! One of the good features about Endomondo is that you can send or receive motivational ‘pep talks’ from your friends as you are doing your workout, helping you to push through that last half mile. Once you have completed your workout you can upload your results to Facebook in the form of a GPS-tracked map, and people can comment or like your results within the app. There are also personal challenges tailored specifically to you, or you can challenge your friends.
Map my ride
Map my ride is aimed specifically at cyclists, and helps to track the time and distance, as well as the intensity of their journeys. It does this by not just tracking how far you cycle and how fast, but it also tracks the elevation of your route, so calculates the calorie count based on the actual environment you cycle in. The app can also suggest user generated routes that are nearby, so you can always find a new challenge for yourself, and the built in calorie budget tracks your calorie intake as well as calories burned. Sharing your results on Facebook and Twitter is optional, but everyone can brag once in a while!
Bodyspace is similar to Nike+ in that, rather then just being an app, an online community has been built around its users. The app itself includes different workout programs designed by athletes which can be customised based on different goals, parameters etc. As expected, the app ties in with its online community so you can see how your friends are doing, track any popular workouts, and get your results out there. You can even upload photos so that people can literally see the difference!