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Should You Be Using Your Phone as a Fitness Tracker?

I believe that most people are unaware of their smartphone’s potential.

They may not be as small as an average standalone fitness tracker, but many of them have more capabilities, and all you need to do is install the right applications to unlock that potential.

No need to invest in a separate gadget – all you need is to find an app that suits your lifestyle and goals.


The Smartphone App Space

Since smartphones have become widely available and easily affordable, we have started to rely on them more and more. As for apps, there are new ones coming out every second, making it hard for us, the consumers, to tell which ones we want and need to use.

According to research results published in January by comScore, 79.1% of the total number of mobile users were the owners of a smartphone. In 2011, BusinessInsider reported that the smartphone market was bigger than the PC market. Four years later, Wired said that anyone with a newer smartphone or tablet model is capable of handling almost any of their at-home and at-work tasks without using a computer, predicting that we won’t even need them in about two years.

Smartphone app developers are at work to provide digital assistance for every aspect of our life, and the fitness app market is, naturally, booming as well.

Smartphone as Fitness Trackers

If you’ve always wanted a fitness tracker, there’s really no need to buy a standalone device, as you can use the smartphone that’s already in your pocket. There are different app combinations that may work better or worse for you, depending on how active you already are or intend to be.

There are general activity level trackers, apps that record running, walking, and cycling like the Cyclemeter app, and give an estimation of the calories burned in the process. Most of them run in the background, so there’s no need for you to switch them on or off, and visually present your daily activities with a timeline.

However, if you need more comprehensive details and assistance with your workouts, there are free apps that pit you against other users for different top times in your area, channeling your competitive side. You can also use them to set alarms to remind you of your trainings, create playlists with your favorite motivational music like the Fit Radio app, share your progress and check how your friends are doing. Certain “food apps” can help you calculate and set your weight loss goals. If you pair an app with a Bluetooth heart rate monitor, you’ll get a more precise picture of you sleep cycles, and fine-tune your workouts.

Even if you rely on the help of all these gadgets, remember that your workout safety is your responsibility. If you’re out for a night run, remember to wear reflective tape for clothing to protect yourself in the traffic. The fitness app you’re using might have a nice night theme that doesn’t bother your eyes while looking at it, but you should stay cautious and protect yourself in case you lose sense of your surroundings.

To What Extent Should We Rely on Fitness Trackers?

Even though they offer many advantages, users should know that these trackers are not 100% accurate, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use them. According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the developers of these health apps are more concerned about connecting their users socially. Fitness tracking apps generally fall into one of two categories – those focused on support and education, and those focused on support and feedback. However, both of them use social support, feedback on behavior and approval from others as leverage.

These apps won’t help you with the additional weight loss you want, but should lead to behavioral changes that will support your goals. According to tJohn M. Jakicic (University of Pittsburgh, Department of Health and Physical Activity), it was concluded that we don’t know as much as we need to about these health apps. “Moreover, we should not send the message that these wearable technologies do not help with weight loss – there were some in our study for whom it made a difference,” Jakicic told Reuters Health. They are worthwhile if they motivate you to start and keep exercising, but if you use them just to show off, they are worthless.

In the end, it’s all about how you use the technology available to you. If it helps you reach your fitness goals, than there’s no doubt in its value.

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About BK Buttah

BK Buttah is the handle used for all guest contributors who aren't regular to the site, or are simply writing to the masses anonymously.

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