Students use smartphone apps for healthy living

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The majority of United States smartphone users use health-related apps in their quest for a healthier lifestyle.

Fifty-eight percent of smartphone users in the United States have health apps downloaded on their phones, according to a study conducted by Paul Krebs, an assistant Professor in the Department of Population Health at New York University’s School of Medicine.

BYU Latin American studies student Emme Parrish said she uses health apps on her phone.

“I use two apps focused on exercise,” Parrish said. “One is a Nike+Run Club app, and one is called SWORKIT. The Nike app is probably my favorite because it is the best running app that I have found. I use it because it has really good accuracy in tracking how far I have run, and it keeps a journal of all my previous runs and mileage.”

Parrish said the Nike+Run Club app she uses improves her exercise routine. She said she believes she exercises more because of the app.

“(The app) helps me keep track of my improvements and shortcomings,” Parrish said. “It tells me when I have beat my fastest time or when I ran my slowest. It is really nice to have this information handy. I would say I run more because I have this app. Being able to control my time and pace allows me to enjoy running more.”

Maddi Driggs
Smartwatches help BYU students stay on top of fitness goals, as students can track their progress on easily with the device on their wrist. (Maddi Dayton)

BYU information systems student Jessica Connor also uses health apps.

“I like using the activity and health apps,” Connor said. “I use them on my Apple Watch, and they motivate me to get up and move more during the day. The Activity app (installed to iPhone by Apple) also motivates me to take the stairs more often.”

Connor said she encounters some difficulties using apps on her Apple Watch.

“I think the difficulty is that I am sometimes distracted by notifications on my watch in class,” Connor said.

BYU electrical engineering sophomore Michael Ashford has a few health-related apps installed on his phone, but his favorite is a sleeping aid.

“The main health app I use is called Sleep Cycle,” Ashford said. “For years, there had been weeks where I couldn’t sleep at all, and I was constantly finding myself tired. I wanted to see why and figure out a way to fix it. I’ve used the app (Sleep Cycle) to improve my quality of sleep since I started using it about seven months ago.”

Ashford said he credits his improved sleeping habits and better grades to the app.

“I have gotten better, more efficient sleep, and I don’t feel nearly as tired during lectures,” Ashford said. “Using the app has also helped my grades quite a bit, as I am now better about when I do my homework and never falling asleep in class.”

Y Be Fit co-director Jessica Davies recommends a variety of fitness and nutrition apps to help her clients create a healthier lifestyle. Davies typically suggests MapMyFitness and Nike+Training Club to improve fitness habits and MyFitnessPal for nutrition.

Davies said using nutrition apps educates users about their diet choices.

“When people start tracking their diet, they typically learn a lot,” Davies said. “Often, people begin to realize that you cannot make up for a poor diet with exercise. It is very easy to eat 500 calories, but not so easy to burn that many calories through exercise. It is important to get both your diet and exercise in order.”

Davies said using smartphone apps helps people stay accountable in their dieting and exercise, but it is not the only way.

“In our program, many of our clients are looking for someone to hold them accountable to their goals,” Davies said. “That is the health coach’s job, but it also helps to have outside support from friends, family and even cellphone apps.”

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