Most iPhone apps stink at giving you a complete workout

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Sworkit is one of the few apps that actually meets all of the guidelines for a complete workout.
Sworkit is one of the few apps that actually meets all of the guidelines for a complete workout.
Photo: Sworkit

If you’re using an exercise app for your iPhone, you’re probably not getting as good a workout as you’d hope, according to the results of a new study.

Researchers from the University of Florida took the top 30 free fitness apps for the iPhone, and compared what they ask their users to do against the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines for physical activity. These guidelines specify exactly how much aerobic, strength, and flexibility exercise are needed for a healthy workout, so the researchers scored each app in these categories.

How’d they do? Not well. Over two-thirds of the apps did not meet the ACSM’s guidelines for flexibility, and a a little more than half the criteria for aerboics. 90% of the apps, though, at least matches guidelines for strength and resistance training.

At the end of the day, the only app that met more than half the criteria from the ACSM’s guidelines was Sworkit Lite.

“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,” said Francois Modave, lead author of the study and an associate professor in health outcomes and policy.

But things might not be as simple as that. In a statement, the national director of certification for ACSM, Richard Cotton, says that while his organization applauds the study for attempting to “raise the bar in technology for physical activity,” they do not expect every app to include all components for fitness: aerobic, strength, and flexibility exercises.

In other words, if you want a complete work out on your iPhone, you should probably mix and match your exercise apps, using multiple apps that each specialize in one form of fitness. But if you’re not up for that, Sworkit Lite is the way to go.

Source: Washington Post