Online Program

Fitness of Apps: An Examination of Mobile Fitness App Usage over Five Months

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 9:10 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Lynn Herrmann, PhD, MPH, Public Health and Health Education, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL
Background: Combining the popularity of mobile devices with the search for fitness, hundreds of fitness apps are available for free or low cost. Apps allow users to set fitness goals, track activity, gather workout ideas, and share progress on social media. A few studies have examined app usability at a point in time, but long-term app usage and subsequent physical activity have not been adequately studied. The current study examined usage of three fitness apps and perceived fitness over five months. By understanding app usage, policies can be developed to create apps based in health behavior research and to promote long-term physical activity.

Methods: Forty-six self-selected adults of average technological abilities downloaded three free pre-determined fitness apps for iPhone or Android. Each app had a different purpose and interface. Participants completed a validated pre-post test survey regarding attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavior control over exercise and exercise with technology. Participant usage was tracked at months one, three, and five after download to determine usage and perceived fitness. T-tests were used to compare means.

Results: Data indicate a statistically significant decrease in usage of two of the three fitness apps over five months (p < 0.05). Fitness perception was not statistically different despite app usage (p > 0.05).

Conclusion: Apps usage should be closely examined before new apps are developed. Policies should guide the development of apps that are based in health behavior research. Policies should also be available for users to ensure app usage relates to personal health goals.

Learning Areas:

Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify 3 factors that draw people to technology for improving physical activity. Explain 3 reasons why fitness app usage may not be a sustainable behavior. Discuss 2 potentially effective means of increasing physical activity using apps.

Keyword(s): Physical Activity, Technology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I earned a PhD in community health with a health behavior focus and a kinesiology minor. I also have a MPH with a health promotion concentration. As an assistant professor at Northern Illinois University, I teach public health and health education courses as well as research the social aspects of exercise. A current research project pertains to the efficacy of smartphone fitness apps. Another research project examines the relationship between gender and exercise.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.