Smartphone users have thousands of apps - with more added every day - to choose from to help them achieve fitness and weight loss goals. But do they really help? A team of experts weighs in.
Announced on December 23, experts from the school of communications at Wake Forest University in the US say that digital media can make things simpler, but it's not likely to change your habits anytime soon.
Essentially, an app is just like any other goal-setting tool to increase personal efficiency. About everything that an app can do can be done without the technology, said Professor Ananda Mitra, but since apps are easy to use, you may be more likely to follow through on, say, your daily bike ride or calorie counting.
Popular fitness and weight loss apps include Lose It!, Calorie counter, My Fitness Pal, Food scanner, and RunKeeper, among many others. What are the pros of synching your life with an app? According to Professor Gary Miller, these kinds of apps can help you become aware of what you're eating and how many calories you're burning, and give you an on-the-spot wakeup call to how fattening that double-cheeseburger really is.
The bonus is that you can get feedback right away, no matter where you are - at home, at the grocery store, or in restaurants. If a person has an assigned calorie budget, the apps help them know how many calories they have left for the day. It gives them immediate feedback and they can make adjustments as they go. You can get programs on the Web too, but of course smartphones are more portable.
The downsides? Apps are limited in estimating portion sizes, he added, and sometimes it can be difficult to find the food you've eaten in the app's database, especially for restaurant meals or if you're an adventurous eater.
Want to try an app to achieve your goals? Read bloggers' top app recommendations: