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Make good use of your digital fitness device – Motivation is the key!

March 1, 2018

Choosing a digital innovation

The choice of mobile health and fitness innovation, whether free or paid, requires an investment in time. In choosing an app we need to assess its features and our personal health and fitness objectives.  Digital innovations developed for fitness should be evaluated in several key areas: the extent of user engagement (interactivity); app functionality (useful features); ease of use; accuracy; security and privacy. In addition, clinical relevance (if this is a factor in your selection and you are under the guidance of a health professional). Possibly, App compatibility too, if you intend to share information or connect with other types of device.

What are ‘wearables’?

Health and fitness wearables such as wrist-wear equipped with sensors are digital health innovations that can measure and analyse physical activity and body functions. Smart clothes with embossed health monitors are expected in 2018 to be utilized by over one quarter million users in Singapore. Globally, wearables are expected to exceed health apps in popularity. Fitbit is the leader in wearable technology (Fitbit Charge 2 & Fitbit Blaze are the market leaders in wearables – accuracy has been a major factor in their success). Followed by Chinese company Xiaomi and thirdly Apple (the Apple Watch).

Motivation is the key

Working out and tracking weight loss is the key use of a health & fitness app. Loyalty among health and fitness app users is high, with 96% of users utilizing only one app. Over 25% of users access their apps at least ten times per week. However, global statistics suggest that Health and fitness App usage is seasonal, with usage slowing down during holiday periods. Similarly, health apps are used less on weekends and with Saturdays the lowest point of weekly usage (Marketwired, 2018).

Despite international market domination by companies such as Apple, Garmin and Samsung – Singapore has become the leading player within the domestic digital health and fitness App innovation space. A report into fitness apps by researchers from NUS (National University of Singapore) claims that the real challenge in developing an effective fitness app is to offer interaction and personal motivation – termed in their report as ‘persuasive technology (Yoganathan & Kajanan 2014).

Health 365, Singapore’s No.1 Fitness App

Health 365 satisfies the need for user interactivity and motivation. This app has a myriad of useful features and is more a health companion than simply an extremely efficient calorie and weight loss tracker. From providing caloric and diet dashboards, health challenges, diet tracking (with access to countless foods and drinks) a record of steps taken and distance covered, synchronization with friends and much more. Health 365 integrates with Fitbit, Apple Watch and other popular apps.

A particularly useful feature of Health 365 for Singaporeans is that the App calculates calories based upon the dietary styles of Singaporeans. Health 365 is currently the second highest app in the Singapore mobile health app market (SimilarWeb,2018).

Mobile Health & Fitness App ‘permissions’ – what are they?

Many Apps have liberal privacy policies to ensure that third party advertising and marketing companies can reach the consumer. Often shown as ‘permissions’ with a request by the developer during user installation to ‘allow’ (permissions). Unfortunately, if permissions are declined the app will not fully function. Usually, a decision is made to forgo some privacy in return for a fully enabled app. Many Apps routinely request access to the camera, contacts and users GPS location. Additional info’ associated with sensitive health information may be of special concern to some users. Quality Apps such as Health 365 have strict privacy and security policies in place including the anonymization of data.

Fitness training, entertainment & digital innovation at the gym

A high level of digital innovation can also be found at some fitness centres in Singapore. For example the ‘Pure Fitness’ gym has a special place for digital fitness innovations – termed the ‘Innovation Lab’.  One such item of fitness equipment utilizes gaming technology for its members to experience a challenging workout while entertained astride a state of the art training bike. Fingertip controls allow the rider to manipulate exertion levels according to personal preferences and the demands of a virtual game. Various degrees of resistance are applied to pedals, with swift movements of the upper body to control the activities seen on a screen that faces the rider. Heart rate and emotional response are monitored to ascertain the level of gaming skill and pedalling required. Pedal power is used to manage the speed of i.e a racing car, tank or helicopter and constantly motivates the driver to increase speed by pedalling faster. A challenging workout that combines entertainment may at times be all the motivation we need!

References
Parker, Lisa, Tanya Karliychuk, Donna Gillies, Barbara Mintzes, Melissa Raven, and Quinn Grundy. 2017. “A Health App Developer’s Guide to Law and Policy: A Multi-Sector Policy Analysis.” BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 17 (1):141.
“Wearables – Singapore | Statista Market Forecast.” n.d. Statista. https://www.statista.com/outlook/319/124/wearables/singapore.
“Follow the Leaders: Highest Ranking Apps in Apple App Store, Singapore.” n.d. SimilarWeb.  https://www.similarweb.com/apps/top/apple/store-rank/sg/all/top-free/iphone.
Yoganathan D, Kajanan S (2015) Designing fitness apps using persuasive technology: A text mining approach
“Apple: Most Popular App Store Categories 2018 | Statistic.” n.d. Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/270291/popular-categories-in-the-app-store/.
Baig, Nawira. 2014. “5 Singapore Apps To Help Keep Your Health In Check.” Vulcan Post. August 29, 2014. https://vulcanpost.com/18606/5-singapore-apps-health-in-check/.
Wise, David. 2017. “Best Fitness Trackers and Activity Monitors of 2018 | TechGearLab.” TechGearLab. TechGearLab. January 11, 2017. https://www.techgearlab.com/topics/wearable-tech/best-fitness-tracker.
“Herrmann_Lynn.pdf.” n.d. https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/bitstream/handle/2142/34301/Herrmann_Lynn.pdf.(2012)
“Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).” n.d. https://www.a-star.edu.sg/
“Health & Fitness App Users Are Going the Distance with Record-High Engagement.” n.d. Marketwire. http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/health-fitness-app-users-are-going-the-distance-with-record-high-engagement-2233003.htm