Smart phones are increasingly becoming an integral part of modern life. As the technology has continued to improve, so has the functionality and usefulness of the devices and there’s very little that’s not catered for in the app store or the android marketplace.
Health and fitness is, of course, one of the most well-served sections of the app markets and you can use your phone to track just about every aspect of your diet and workout routines.
In fact, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that mobile technology will form an important part of health technology in the future. But before we get to the point where your phone is permanently monitoring your vitals and suggesting your next lift, many people consider it to be essential to monitoring and tracking their progress.
Track all the things!
The main benefit of health and fitness apps is the convenience, and you’re never more than a couple of screen taps from logging the details of your lunch or how many reps you managed to squeeze out.
Tracking your calories, protein intake and other elements of your diet has been made immeasurably easier by apps like My Fitness Pal. A quick search or scanning a barcode lets you log everything you eat and monitor how you’re doing against your daily target and it can even suggest your recommended daily intake based on your weight and your eventual objectives.
Logging your weight loss (or gain) in these apps can help keep you motivated too, as it’s unusually satisfying to see that little line graph moving in the right direction. Most apps will adjust your daily/weekly target based on your logged weight, so it can help to prevent overeating if your BMR changes.
The gamification of workouts
The GPS technology in most smart phones makes it possible to track your running or cycling routes and shares the data with other users.
Map My Run can suggest potential routes for you to take based on your target distance and allows you to compare your times with other users. It can help you meet up with other runners in your area and even work together to create and recommend other routes to take.
Strava is proving a huge hit with cyclists as it utilises GPS and social media to create a kind of computer game approach to cycling. Users can create virtual race tracks in their local area and can compete with other riders to try and top each other’s times. Current leaders for each section are awarded a virtual King of the Mountain award and get the satisfaction of knowing they’re faster than a bunch of people they’ve likely never met.
Fitocracy takes the gaming element even further by awarding points for each exercise you complete. Users can ‘level up’ and compete with other fitness geeks in a virtual leaderboard. You earn achievements for different levels of progress, and there’s a pretty good community who keep each other focused.
From a personal perspective these little victories are strangely motivating, and by the increasing numbers it would seem there’s plenty more who feel the same.
Keeping you motivated
It’s the social media and community elements of these apps which can really help people to meet their fitness goals. Map MY Run and Strava can be set up to automatically post to your Facebook and Twitter feeds, so you may feel some obligation to go that extra mile if you know your friends and family will see your workout.
The support offered on sites like the My Fitness Pal forums or the Reddit Lose It sub can really give people that extra motivation to stick to the plan. Being able to share your frustrations or get advice from people who are going through the same experience can be a great motivator, and seeing people who have actually succeeded can make all the difference when you’re contemplating opening that bag of cookies.
Easy access to information
The main benefit smart phones bring to health and fitness is fast, convenient access to a near endless amount of helpful advice and information.
Youtube can let you see the proper form for a particular workout or even talk you through an entire program.
Podcasts and audio books can talk you through just about every aspect of nutrition and exercise, and they can be listened to pretty much anytime, anywhere.
Looking for a healthy meal idea for dinner or wondering what a healthy choice from the supermarket is? Just Google it on your phone and you’ll have a recipe and/or a shopping list in a minute or two.
Even using the phone as a music or video player can be a godsend for those long early morning cardio sessions. Training in silence can be a little boring at times, and the right song coming on just as you’re hitting the wall can give you that extra push to finish up your workout.
The smart phone is quickly becoming the ultimate health and fitness companion, and it’ll only become more ingrained with our wellbeing as technology improves over the next few years. It’s an exciting time for fitness technology, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!