COLUMN: Do apps inspire us?

Many of us have fitness trackers that record daily activity or calorie counters '“ but can technology really help us lead a healthier lifestyle?

Sunday, 30th October 2016, 9:00 am
fitness, sport, training, technology and lifestyle concept - two smiling people with smartphones and earphones outdoors

It’s a grey area with lots of emerging research showing that while fitness apps and trackers can provide a helpful boost for some people, others may find them de motivating and counterproductive.

People who are really interested in healthy lifestyles and want to make a definite change will find fitness trackers inspiring.

However, if you’re not totally committed to making a change, you may find it disheartening and want to give up – especially if you’re nowhere near your goal.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t give trackers a go but it might be useful to initially set smaller goals that you are realistically able to achieve.

For example, if you currently don’t do much exercise, instead of aiming to hit the recommended daily 10,000 steps straight away why not try for 4,000 or 5,000 instead and gradually work your way up.

There are several Public Health England approved apps to help with healthier lifestyles. One You has a range of apps including Easy Meals to offer simple, cost effective recipes, a drinks trackers to keep an eye on your alcohol consumption and Couch to 5k to build you up to running 5k over a nine week programme.

Change 4 Life also has barcode scanners apps to see how much sugar is in foods and an activity generator to help children achieve their recommended 60 minutes of activity each day.

Research so far shows that apps can be very useful for quick and easy ways to get information and record our food intake and physical activity output. But whether this results in long term benefits is still unclear.

In short fitness trackers and healthy eating apps can help us to stay on track if we are motivated to start with. They can be a good way to kick start a healthy lifestyle regime as they offer focus and new ideas.

But the key is to set small, achievable goals that you are likely to complete as this will keep you motivated.