Fitness Apps: A Short Overview

Keeping fit and healthy can seem like a chore, especially when you have to squeeze into a busy work week. Eating well, for example, is usually one of the first victims of a hectic schedule – spending time cooking is easily replaced by a drive-thru takeout. When it comes to exercise, the same applies. Once you collapse onto the sofa after work, it’s highly unlikely you’ll get yourself up again and go for a jog or to the gym. Fortunately, there’s an app (or three) for that. 

The fusion of physical and digital started over thirty years ago in the form of heart rate monitors used by professional athletes, while modern fitness monitoring devices became available to the average exerciser in the early 2000s. Comprehensive apps like Nike Training Club and Strava only appeared more recently, but have become extremely popular and widely used by busy people who need a structure and some form of exterior motivation to break a sweat. 

From trackers to apps

One of the first fitness trackers available to the average consumer was MyFitnessPal; an innovative precursor to the current trackers and apps that helped users record their physical activity and eating habits. As time went on MyFitnessPal added new features that made it easier to collect data and lessen the amount of manual input needed for accurate feedback. 

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A couple of decades later, fitness apps have evolved to meet the needs of users by combining tracking features with virtual classes. A few of the most popular apps include:

  • Nike Training Club
  • Fitbit
  • obé Fitness
  • Peloton
  • Strava

Apart from Nike Training Club which is free to download, these apps have monthly subscription fees.

Top tips

No matter which app you choose, there are some pointers to help you get the most out of it. It is suggested that you log all workouts, including rest days, as this gives you a better idea of your fitness levels and whether they’re improving. Achieving goals becomes easier when you have some sort of accountability, even if it’s to an app. 

Most apps today function with a balance between automatically captured data (heart rate, distance covered, etc.) and user input (what and when they eat, how a workout felt, etc.). This can be motivating: seeing the evidence of improved fitness alongside eating habits, for example, can encourage users to stick to goals. 

Where to now?

The world is currently in a state of flux – nothing unusual, but chaotic nonetheless. Being isolated in lockdowns has taken a physical and mental toll on many people, which is why fitness apps, online shopping, bingo for real money, and other tech trends have grown in popularity. The sense of structure and link to normality that fitness apps provide can be extremely helpful in getting usually sedentary people moving – there’s nothing more motivating than noticing your own performance improving. 

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Even now that there are fewer restrictions preventing participation in group sports, the popularity of these apps isn’t waning. It’s clear that consumers can look forward to evening more innovative technological tools to help them on their journeys to health. 

Johnny Thompson

Johnny Thompson is a senior reporter for Generator Research in Los Angeles, reporting on technology, business, finances, and more. He previously worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

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