Fitness apps and devices are in the news, and being a geek (a trait I’m very proud of), I’ve been using some of these apps.
Sleep Better App
Sleep Better, an app from Runtastic, supposedly helps you sleep better. You rest your plugged-in iPhone with the app running next to your pillow and fall asleep. Next morning, stop the app. The app provides a graphic picture of your night, along with how much of your night was a deep sleep, a light sleep, etc. It then provides an overall sleep efficiency number.
One of mine was 88%. What does the 88% mean? Should it be better? If so, how do I make it better? Just for fun I ran the app with the iPhone on a table. The table’s sleep efficiency was 98%. (I suspect other iOS activity kept the table from a 100% rating). But the table seemed to have gotten a good night’s sleep. I’ve deleted this app.
Loseit is an app that lets you keep track of the foods you are eating and the exercises you are performing. It provides a picture of the calories being consumed and burned, and the makeup of the foods being consumed (carbs, proteins, fats).
Foods are selected from a very comprehensive list, and the same for exercises. According to the app, my net calorie intake (calories consumed less calories burned) should be 2,100 to maintain my weight. The app tells me that I regularly consume fewer calories, implying that I should be losing weight. But my weight remains constant (which is a good thing because that’s what I want).
I imagine I’m either understating calories consumed or overstating calories burned through exercise–or both. After all, the lentil soup my wife makes for lunch may or may not have the same number of calories as the lentil soup in the app’s list. Similarly, the app may not agree that the stationary bike session that leaves me drenched in sweat and feeling spent is not as vigorous as I think it is. The app suffers from the “garbage in / garbage out” problem. Still, I find there is value in being thoughtful about the food I’m eating.
Even with the inaccuracy associated with selecting the right food, in general, the app gives a fair idea of what is being consumed. I’ll continue to use this app.
Endomondo keeps track of distance covered, altitude change and pace of a user’s movement. I use it when I walk, hike, snowshoe, bike ride, etc. The app is easy to use and does not chew up the battery too badly.
The one problem: it can be inaccurate. My wife, dog and I hike regularly, following the same path, moving at the same pace a couple of times each week. The distance we cover changes according to the app: 4.6 miles, 4.7 miles, 4.8 miles. Now, the place where we hike, Houdek Dunes, is certainly magical (we saw a bald eagle soar overhead this morning) but not so magical that distance varies by the day. I’ll continue to use this app because it is accurate within an acceptable range of error.
Jawbone UP3 – Apple Watch
It is a truism to state that this technology – both the apps and devices – will get better. For now I think it best to use these apps with a skeptical eye and a large grain of salt. I am looking forward to Jawbone’s new UP3 which captures heart rate. And, being an Apple fanboy, a close look at the Apple Watch is highly anticipated.
Do you have any new fitness apps or devices of any type to report about? Let us know in the comments here!