Should You Use a Fitness App?

Making changes for a healthier lifestyle isn’t always easy—but a new generation of digital tools aims to help.

Downloaded to your smartphone or tablet or worn like a watch or armband, there’s an app for just about every fitness plan.

But many people who buy or download a fitness app quit using it within six months.

Will a fitness app make you fitter or simply frustrated? It all depends on your goals.

The current crop of apps can track heart rates, calculate calories burned, log your steps, and advise you on the nutritional content of your lunch.

You can get instant access to workout videos, keep a fitness log, get regular reminders to stick with the plan, and more.

These very features, however, can either boost success or undermine it.

Fitness Support on Demand

A fitness app can be like having your own personal trainer.

You can set preferences, reminders, and a long list of other functions to get the most out of your app.

Always available and completely customizable, your app can help you stay focused on your goals and encourage you to make better food and fitness choices.

Your app can calculate how many calories that piece of chocolate cake might have and how long it would take to burn them off, find out you how many steps you’ve taken toward your goal, or whether you’ve hit your target heart rate.

Apps can alert you to changes in your blood pressure or heart rate, and remind you when to hit the gym or take your vitamins.

Who’s In Charge?

Sometimes, though, fitness apps can feel like nagging mothers or drill sergeants. Biometric monitors tracking heart rate, blood pressure, and pulse are constantly on, providing feedback as long as you’re wearing them.

Apps that monitor exercise or diet programs warn users whenever they stray or issue repeated reminders to take action toward the plan.

These handy features can quickly become shrill annoyances.

Some users can’t stop checking the app constantly to see how they’re measuring up to their goals—and those of other users too, since many fitness apps are also designed for social sharing. That can undermine motivation and sabotage success. 

Fitness apps can be your best friend or a foe that undermines your progress. Use them wisely, though, and they can be useful tools for staying focused on getting fit.


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