Monday, June 3, 2013
Does Social Media Inspire Fitness?
The world of apps and gadgets that track our fitness progress is growing at lightning speed. We have transitioned from a time when the most advanced ways to track our progress were with pedometers that contained a watch battery inside, to a time when the spectrum of gadgets includes everything from wristbands that track our distance, to apps that tell our friends how far we just ran.
We have all seen the friends who use apps such as Nike's that post to Facebook when they start a workout, so that we can "cheer them on" during the run, and then the app posts the completion distance and time for all the world to see.
But do these gadgets really make a difference? And what is the impact on our fitness goals when we know that our whole network of family and friends can see the intensity level and frequency of each of our workouts? Is it really contributing to healthier, more fit lives?
I would argue that the people who were going to work out anyway are likely the same ones who are using these tools and sharing their data with their social networks. I don't believe that they gather a huge new population of fitness fanatics, but I do believe that they provide motivation to those who are working out to push themselves harder. If you know that everyone will see how fast you finished that run on the treadmill, you're less likely to take a walking break in the middle or end the workout early.
The slew of new gadgets really is pretty cool, and I admittedly really want to try a couple of them out. This CNN article provides details on 7 different fitness tools, but here are two that I am particularly eyeing:
1. Run Keeper - this app allows you to find runners that are of a similar fitness level and who live nearby. I am just getting back into running and this would be a fun way to meet some new running buddies, if used in a safe manner!
2. Nike+ Fuel Band - this is a tracking device that is worn as a wristband and connects to an app on your phone. It tracks your own workout progress, and also shares the information with friends. Nike has been a leader in the fitness gadget space for a few years now, and I love the idea of not only tracking my data with a wristband (rather than something clunky to carry around!), and having the option of sharing the data.