was once a time ó really, truly, and not all that long ago
ó when people merely exercised. They didnít wear watches.
They didnít wear heart-rate monitors. They didnít record
every move. Phones were for conversations and tended to stay
attached to a wall at home.
exercise these days, though, chances are pretty good you track
it in some way. And a main way is through apps: The website
digitaltrends.com estimates that 100,000 are dedicated to
health and fitness and that globally the market is worth about
abound about which apps are most popular, or best for
monitoring calorie intake and exercise output; which are easy
to understand, and which take more time to calculate than you
may exercise in a week.
those are just lists. What do real people get from their
app-focused health routines? We found some aficionados, and
asked them to explain how they found an approach that clicked
like having information.í
Stan Eigenbrodt, 49
of apps used: At least six
Lose It! and Runkeeper
activity: Weight training and running
sort of a tech person," says Eigenbrodt, an attorney who
lives in Plano, Tex. "I like playing around with my
iPhone. I like having information. I just got a Polar Beat
wireless heart-rate monitor, which has a Polar app and talks
to Runkeeper. Now when Iím running, I can do so from a
I run with Runkeeper, it takes the calories it thinks I burned
to Lose It! It also tracks my steps in Fitbit. If it thinks
the calorie count is more accurate than the algorithm, it
takes those. If I have two entries, one from Runkeeper and one
from Fitbit, it deletes one, so I donít end up eating too
wear the monitor when I work out. When I work out with my
trainer, I donít use Runkeeper. I use the Polar app for
that. Now I use the Polar app with Runkeeper so I can look at
the overall report on Polar to see how it changes. Iím a
data guy like that. I like to look at all those and see whatís
started out with Lose It!, an app which, at its most basic,
tracks food intake. He liked the app, its information and most
especially the discipline it has taught him.
can out eat any workout," he says. "In a lot of
office environments and certainly this one, almost every day
someone is having a birthday and thereís cake or muffins. If
Iím not writing down what I eat, itís easy not to think
about it and to just eat."
he wrote in an email: "I finally got my Apple Watch. It
has some apps that work well with the Apple Health app, and
Runkeeper has an Apple Watch app, but I have to say itís too
soon for me to know if the watch is going to be transformative."
wanted to see everything.í
Bree Redwine, 51
of apps used: Three
My Fitness Pal
activity: Running and weight training
reason I chose those I did is that they worked best for
me," says Redwine. "I looked at others. I downloaded
them. I got so frustrated."
has four children. She works full time at Lukeís Locker
sportswear store. She works out every day. Ease is imperative.
did start out using more," she says. "I then just
really looked at what I needed for my life and lifestyle and
realized I needed something quick and practical and
Fitness Pal was her first app. Then she bought a Garmin
Vivosmart fitness band and, she says, "my world opened
up." The apps connect; she records everything she eats
and drinks as well as her weekly weight. The watch monitors
her heart rate, her movement, her sleep patterns.
a weird person," she says. "I wanted to see
her stats has improved the way she eats and trains, she says.
almost like Big Brother is watching you. When I see that, I
tend to do better."
also joined an online community with which "you can talk
to, share ideas with, share struggles," she says.
"You get recognition in the community of Garmin or My
Fitness Pal and little trophies and badges, which is fun. Youíre
always notified when you surpass certain goals, which gives
that extra inspiration."
latest app is Pact, which pays you for meeting your goal and
charges your bank account when you donít. She also now has
an Apple Watch.
heart rate monitor rocks!" she writes in an email.
"I like it oh so much."
want to be fined.í
Dan Gray, 45
of apps used: At least a dozen
My Fitness Pal
was one of those guys growing up who was picked last for the
kickball team," he says. "I discovered running about
five years ago."
while training for a marathon, he was surprised to be gaining
when I realized I must be doing something wrong, but couldnít
put my finger on it," he says.
a running friend who had lost a lot of weight how he did it.
The answer changed Grayís life:
Iím friends with can see what I eat," he says. "By
putting in what I eat as Iím eating it, I found myself
making small calibrations in order to get under my calorie
limit. Once I started developing good eating habits, I started
layering on other things, like tracking the exercise."
that with several apps; among them Pact.
been using it about a year," says Gray, who works in the
health care industry. "They take My Fitness Pal and other
apps one step further."
up Pact by committing, for example, to how often and how long
heíll exercise, how many times heíll log his food, how
many fruits and vegetables heíll eat. If My Fitness Pal and
his other apps sync up and show heís not following through,
heíll be fined either $5 or $10. If he does, he receives $1
to $1.50 a week.
Iíve found, man, is that I will really work a lot to get
that dollar or dollar-fifty a week," he says. "I donít
want to be fined."
he hasnít been. Granted, recording his food, his workouts,
his weight, his blood pressure ó and, because heís
diabetic, his blood-sugar readings ó on apps has taken a
little getting used to, but itís worth the effort, he says.
new is hard, just like running is hard," he says. "I
think thatís the mind-set you have to have. Any time you try
something new, and maybe even the first 10 times, you wonít
be good at it.
just have to attack it as ĎIím learning another habit.í"