Healthcare Technology Featured Article

November 13, 2012

Are Fitness Apps Making You Fat?

It’s no secret that mobile devices make our lives easier. Whether it’s locating a restaurant, reserving movie tickets or surfing the Web, people are able to manage almost every aspect of their lives through a mobile device app. In keeping with this trend, many choose to manage their fitness and weight using mobile apps.

With more than 1,500 fitness apps on iTunes alone, there’s an app for every fitness fanatic. According to a Pew Research Center Internet survey, in 2001 close to 10 percent of cell phone users downloaded at least one fitness app.

Although some people attribute their svelte figures to the latest fitness app, a recent study proves that the old fashion way of “eating less and exercising more” is the way to go. The study, conducted by researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah, analyzed 127 popular fitness apps and ranked them based on their ability to get users into shape. The study found that most apps failed to change user’s behaviors, mostly due to the apps lack of customization.

Image via Shutterstock

Most fitness apps have several features in common. The features commonly promote motivation, social networking, accountability and behavioral/ fitness tracking. For example, fitness apps, RunKeeper, Lose It! and Endomondo all provide users with some sort of tracking interface and social networking option.

More recently, Jawbone revealed its new and improved Up fitness solution, which is similar to Nike’s FuelBand. Nike’s FuelBand is a fitness bracelet that is pre-programmed to track a user’s every move. The user’s activity is then calculated into “fuel points,” which allows users to set fitness goals or even compete with fellow users online.  

The new Up fitness solution from Jawbone sports better durability standards and flexible wiring, making it easy to wear 24/7. Similar to the FuelBand, the fitness solution tracks a user’s steps and activity throughout the day, but also logs a user’s sleep quality. The wearable device is coupled with the Up app, which lets users log meals. The app also provides users with detailed data analysis of their fitness status, growth and goals.  

With analysts questioning the ability of fitness apps to burn fat, maybe the new direction that Jawbone and Nike have embarked on is the new trend in mobile fitness.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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