We are at home, cooped up for the safety of our community. Many of us feeling more sedentary than usual. Our gym routines have been abruptly interrupted. Luckily, there is a bevy of solid apps available on your smartphone or smart TV to keep you moving while you’re staying home.
Research shows that fitness tech is effective. According to a Journal of Medical Internet Research study, fitness app users are more likely to exercise during their leisure time. And many of us suddenly have a lot more leisure time than we used to. It’s no doubt that fitness app downloads have surged recently. “If we look at the total number of active users in the US who are using popular health and fitness apps, it stands to be more than 80 million. (as of May 2018),” reports Mobile App Daily. It will be interesting to see revised figures for the spring of 2020.
Finding Easy-At-Home Workouts
If you are a member of a fitness center franchise, odds are good your gym has its own app. For example, Planet Fitness, 24-Hour Fitness and Gold’s Gym all have apps available in the Apple App Store and on Google Play. Features often include membership maintenance and basic workout guides. Using your gym’s app may deliver a sense of normalcy, but some are tied specifically to their physical facilities or equipment and may not be relevant at this time.
If you don’t have a gym membership, don’t worry. You’ll find thousands of app options for easy, at-home workouts. Here are just a few categories of the apps on the market:
- Short-duration home workouts (from six to 30 minutes)
- Daily activity monitoring
- Workouts specifically for women
- Strength training
- Weight loss
- Gym routines
- 30-day fitness challenges
- Training clubs
- Calorie counters
- Celebrity workouts
- Yoga, running and other activity-focused programs
Fitness apps are relatively low-cost. You can download free apps, which may serve you advertisements or prompt you to invest in in-app purchases as a means to make the product profitable. Other apps might charge a one-time or monthly fee. A more expensive download may set you back as much as five dollars a month. Be sure you read all the details before hitting the download button—but even for the more expensive apps, if you find one that makes exercise feel rewarding, it’s worth it.
Fitness apps are also available for your smart TV or streaming device. For example, Apple TV offers a number of yoga apps for free. Simply download via the Apple Store just as you would do on your phone. An icon will be docked on your home screen along with your favorite TV networks and streaming services. Then clear your furniture, roll out the yoga mats, and your entire family can benefit from some stretches and strength poses, together.
Online reviews are incredibly helpful when selecting fitness apps. You can find them in your app download store as well as by simply looking up reviews in a search engine. Yes, sometimes hucksters post fake reviews, so use common sense. If a review sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Look for apps with high numbers of reviews and focus on the average rating. Scan individual reviews and look for patterns in the comments. If you see more than three with similar complaints, you may want to steer clear.
Even better than reviews from strangers are reviews from people you know and trust. Ask coworkers or post a request for recommendations on your favorite social media platform. You are bound to get an assortment of both rants and raves. Just be mindful that personal fitness is just that, personal. Daily, intense nine-minute workouts might be perfect for your best friend, but not so great for you. You might need to try a few apps before finding the one that’s perfect for you. The key is to find one that you actually enjoy using.
Finding the Right Fitness App For You
Online reviews are incredibly valuable. You can find them in your app download store as well as by simply looking up reviews in a search engine. Yes, sometimes hucksters post fake reviews, so use common sense. If a review sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Look for apps with high numbers of reviews and focus on the average rating. Scan individual reviews and look for patterns in the comments. If you see more than three with similar complaints, you may want to steer clear.
Even better than reviews from strangers are reviews from people you know and trust. Ask around the office or post a request for recommendations on your favorite social media platform. You are bound to get an assortment of both rants and raves. Just be mindful that personal fitness is just that: personal. Daily, intense nine-minute workouts might be perfect for your best friend, but not so great for you. You might need to try a few apps before finding the one that’s perfect for you. The key is to find one that you actually enjoy using.
What About Wearables?
Fitbit and Apple Watch have emerged as the two heavyweights in the wearables category. Wearables place sensors on your body to track heart rate, movement, speed, BMI, muscle mass and weight loss. Most wearables have a companion app that compiles and reports health data.
Wearables are not new, but they are evolving, with prices starting to drop slightly as more hit the market. Google is even working with Levi’s to bring tech to traditional fibers. Soon, everyday clothing may store health data, giving us a full analytical fitness picture.
Safety & Security, First
Technology in the world of fitness is exciting and inspiring. Apps and gadgets make it pretty tough to find excuses not to get in our 30 minutes of exercise a day. But with convenience also comes a few words of caution.
Any time you enter personal data into a device or on the internet, your data could be exposed to theft by hackers. And many people are unaware that the Health Information Privacy Protection Act (HIPPA) does not apply to fitness apps. No data is ever 100 percent safeguarded online.
This doesn’t mean you need to unplug and fear fitness tech. But you should follow some security best practices, such as:
- Never use Facebook or other social media platforms as a shortcut to log-in to a health or fitness app. Doing so creates a big vulnerability hackers can take advantage of.
- Only download apps with extensive privacy and security policies.
- Never enter personal information into a form on a website that doesn’t have “https” at the start of the URL (page address—found at the top of your browser window). The s stands for secure, which means the page is encrypted.
Another area of caution is to be mindful of your physical safety. Unlike working out with a personal trainer, apps provide zero support and limited instruction. Are you doing it right? Are you risking injury? You won’t really know. So before you start using your coffee table for elevated push-ups, make sure it’s not going to slide out from under you.
Testimonial videos can be helpful and are easy to find on YouTube. Video testimonials give you a sense of what your experience will be like before starting the workout. It also helps if you have a mirror nearby so you can check your activity and posture as compared to the instruction.
And, as always, your doctor is an excellent resource. If you have questions about exercises or aspects of a workout related to your health or personal limitations, ask the MOSH Athletic Training Services Team.