According to a recent study, many workout apps for the iPhone are too narrow in focus and omit important guidelines recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
Researchers at the University of Florida tested 30 popular free apps, examining them for their handling of three essential aspects of fitness: aerobic exercise, strength/resistance, and flexibility. Although 90 percent of the apps met some of the strength/resistance guidelines, only a little over half met some aerobics criteria and only one-third of the apps met any flexibility standards.
Only a single app, Sworkit Lite, met over half of ACSM’s guidelines, scoring a 9.01 out of 14. Other apps in the top five included 7 Minute Workout, StrongLifts 5×5, Running for Weight Loss, and JEFIT Workout, but none of them scored over 5.39 out of 14. Four apps tied for last place at 0.33, three of which were concentrated on ab workouts.
The ACSM told the Washington Post that while it doesn’t expect every app to contain all three pillars, ones that don’t need to be combined with supporting workouts to fill the gaps.
The lead author of the study, Francois Modave, warned that people risk being injured with many apps because they don’t prepare people for proper form or safety.
Fitness apps that are compatible with the iPhone and wearables like the Apple Watch have become increasing popular in the past few years. The Apple Watch itself can monitor metrics like steps, distance, and heart rate. However, like most fitness trackers, it lacks a way of directly monitoring strength training and concentrates on running and walking instead.