The future of wearable technology and health and fitness apps may seem promising with their current popularity and assumed effectiveness, but current research tells a different story. One study in particular surveyed 2,000 participants, ages 18-34, about their use of fitness apps. Results concluded that 66% of the individuals who already ate a healthy diet and lived an active lifestyle found the apps helpful, but 67% of the individuals who report not maintaining a healthy lifestyle found the apps useless. This study is crucial when deciding whether or not health apps are truly beneficial for the health and wellness field.
Essentially, what this study determined is that fitness apps will help individuals with already well-developed habits continue their healthy lifestyle. However, if a consumer wants to change their bad habits into healthier ones, health and fitness apps might not be the way to go. Researchers in the UK analyzed more than 3,000 apps associated with keywords “weight,” “weight management,” and “calorie.” Out of these apps, only 17 of them were actually developed by a certified health organization or university. So less than 1% of the apps we are using to try and lose weight are developed by experts in health and behavior change. No wonder they aren’t working!
More research went on to analyze health and fitness apps to determine if any constructs were present that represented health behavior theory. Results concluded that out of the 58 apps studied, theory was almost completely deficient (with a score of 6.19 out of a possible 100). If these apps were being created by collaborations of experts in the health and wellness field and top developers in the technology field I think the results would be much more favorable.
As future health educators its important for us to know this information so we can better serve our specific populations. Health and fitness apps may work for some people but we cannot expect them to work for everyone. We need to have a variety of tools in our toolbox. The more methods we know and the more theory we understand the better we can serve. One of my favorite videos regarding changing our lifestyle for the better is by Dr. Mark Cochran titled Change your Story; Change your Health. In this video Dr. Cochran elaborates on the concept of health and the important of a positive mindset. This video is just one of the endless approaches to developing a healthier lifestyle.