If you want to get fit, use an app.
The majority of people who use their smartphones and the internet to help them get healthy have been successful in losing weight, drinking less and quitting smoking, says the American Heart Association.
Researchers analyzed data in 224 studies from 1990 to 2013 that rated how efficient things like consulting the internet, tapping mobile phones, wearing personal fitness devices and using software were in keeping adults motivated to stay healthy. In the 23 years, the studies spanned, results showed that digital interventions do make a difference, the New York Daily News reports.
Dr. Ashkan Afshin, the lead study author from the University of Washington, says,
Both internet-based and mobile-based programs can help people become more physically active, eat better and achieve modest weight loss over 3-12 months.
Individuals who participated in online health programs and subscribed to fitness services improved their diets, became more physically active, lost both weight and body fat, and cut down on their alcohol and smoking habits.
Those who used smartphone apps, received texts or voicemail messages, on the other hand, successfully lost more body weight and fat. So the results mean consulting a personal trainer, nutritionist or doctor is still necessary to make significant progress.
The researchers likewise admitted that their studies lasted only six months, so the sustainability of these digital practices will need more data for confirmation. Previous research has suggested that American adults tend to leave off their fitness trackers after six months and that while one in 10 people might own some form of fitness device, half of them don’t use it anymore.
Afshin notes that they need to conduct further studies in different populations, such as in developing countries or the elderly to get a better view on how technology helps people stay healthy.
For now, the study’s results show that apps and online programs can help, and it wouldn’t hurt to try.