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Life Fitness (UK) Ltd
Life Fitness (UK) Ltd
Life Fitness (UK) Ltd
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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

News

Bulk of free fitness apps fail to meet exercise guidelines, says study

It’s often said that you get what you pay for, and it seems that fitness apps which cost nothing provide little more than that, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Florida have concluded that the majority of free fitness apps are falling well short in meeting users’ needs. Their study – published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research – found that only one of 30 popular free fitness apps for iPhones meets the majority of guidelines for physical activity from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

The apps were compared to the ACSM guidelines for aerobic exercise, strength or resistance, and flexibility. Each app was scored across those three categories, examining to what extent they adhered to the specific ACSM parameters for safety, warm-ups, cool-downs, stretching, intensity, frequency and progression.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the initial focus the fitness app market has had on heart-rate tracking, more than half the apps met some of the recommendations for aerobic exercise. However, two-thirds of the apps did not meet any of the flexibility criteria.

“While apps have great potential to give more people access to workouts that could help them achieve a healthy weight and fitness level, we found that the vast majority of apps are not as safe as they could be and do not give users the type of well-rounded workouts known to be most effective,” said lead author of the study François Modave.

As well as not meeting the specific criterion for each category, 23 out of the 30 apps did not provide an actual training plan, explain how to choose a workout or explain how to organise the workouts through the week. Experts said these shortcomings make it difficult, especially for beginners, to follow a safe and physiologically sound exercise regimen.

“The issues with these apps place users at risk for injury because the apps fail to prepare them to take on the exercises, use proper techniques and address safety issues surrounding different types of exercise,” added Modave.

“Our hope is that this study, which is the first to explore what extent fitness apps are adhering to the ACSM Guidelines, starts a conversation about how to harness apps to give people high-quality, safe and effective workouts.”

While the study raises some interesting points, it should be highlighted that many of the apps tested (see table below), such as Strava and Daily Yoga, are specifically tailored to one type of training, so evaluating them across a broad range of categories will not necessarily reflect their usefulness to specific users.

The findings come as calls have increased for fitness workers to improve their knowledge of the app market as they begin to play a more prominent role in consumers’ lives.

According to Graeme Hinde, managing director of LFX, it’s imperative that fitness professionals keep abreast of consumer trends to ensure that the gym remains a relevant and engaging environment for physical activity. Speaking at SIBEC 2015, he said instructors should be able to recommend pieces of wearable tech and apps to match their training goals in the same way they would suggest exercises and nutrition plans.

The University of Florida study's table of results

It’s often said that you get what you pay for, and it seems that fitness apps which cost nothing provide little more than that, according to a new study.
HAF,FIT,IND,TEC
555159_79653.jpg
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News

Bulk of free fitness apps fail to meet exercise guidelines, says study

It’s often said that you get what you pay for, and it seems that fitness apps which cost nothing provide little more than that, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Florida have concluded that the majority of free fitness apps are falling well short in meeting users’ needs. Their study – published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research – found that only one of 30 popular free fitness apps for iPhones meets the majority of guidelines for physical activity from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

The apps were compared to the ACSM guidelines for aerobic exercise, strength or resistance, and flexibility. Each app was scored across those three categories, examining to what extent they adhered to the specific ACSM parameters for safety, warm-ups, cool-downs, stretching, intensity, frequency and progression.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the initial focus the fitness app market has had on heart-rate tracking, more than half the apps met some of the recommendations for aerobic exercise. However, two-thirds of the apps did not meet any of the flexibility criteria.

“While apps have great potential to give more people access to workouts that could help them achieve a healthy weight and fitness level, we found that the vast majority of apps are not as safe as they could be and do not give users the type of well-rounded workouts known to be most effective,” said lead author of the study François Modave.

As well as not meeting the specific criterion for each category, 23 out of the 30 apps did not provide an actual training plan, explain how to choose a workout or explain how to organise the workouts through the week. Experts said these shortcomings make it difficult, especially for beginners, to follow a safe and physiologically sound exercise regimen.

“The issues with these apps place users at risk for injury because the apps fail to prepare them to take on the exercises, use proper techniques and address safety issues surrounding different types of exercise,” added Modave.

“Our hope is that this study, which is the first to explore what extent fitness apps are adhering to the ACSM Guidelines, starts a conversation about how to harness apps to give people high-quality, safe and effective workouts.”

While the study raises some interesting points, it should be highlighted that many of the apps tested (see table below), such as Strava and Daily Yoga, are specifically tailored to one type of training, so evaluating them across a broad range of categories will not necessarily reflect their usefulness to specific users.

The findings come as calls have increased for fitness workers to improve their knowledge of the app market as they begin to play a more prominent role in consumers’ lives.

According to Graeme Hinde, managing director of LFX, it’s imperative that fitness professionals keep abreast of consumer trends to ensure that the gym remains a relevant and engaging environment for physical activity. Speaking at SIBEC 2015, he said instructors should be able to recommend pieces of wearable tech and apps to match their training goals in the same way they would suggest exercises and nutrition plans.

The University of Florida study's table of results

It’s often said that you get what you pay for, and it seems that fitness apps which cost nothing provide little more than that, according to a new study.
HAF,FIT,IND,TEC
555159_79653.jpg

News

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Life Fitness (UK) Ltd
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Alan Leach

Chair of IHRSA and CEO, West Wood Clubs
IHRSA is now on a mission to bring the global industry together
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Featured supplier news: 1Rebel enlists FunXtion to elevate its revolutionary, customer-driven RIG concept
A partnership with FunXtion and its MultiScreen Solution software has allowed 1Rebel to enhance its in-club experience to a much more connected and engaged level.
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Company profiles
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We take time at the outset to understand your unique customer journey. Then we work ...
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We provide a full turn-key solution for clients from design and consultation, through to bespoke ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Fitness equipment
Octane Fitness: Fitness equipment
Exercise equipment
Power Plate: Exercise equipment
Skincare
Sothys: Skincare
Management software
Premier Software Solutions: Management software
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
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SpaBooker: Spa software
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Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
Salt therapy products
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trade associations
International SPA Association - iSPA: trade associations
Property & Tenders
Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council
Property & Tenders
Newport, Shropshire
Lilleshall Sports Academy
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
01-03 Feb 2022
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
07-10 Apr 2022
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
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