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Feature Article Get "Fitness Assistance" With Health Apps for Your Phone

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When you’re ready to make better choices with your diet and exercise, having an accountability partner can help. And if your best friend doesn’t want to hear everything you ate today, a health app is a great choice.

“It’s important to think about what motivates you and keeps you accountable before you choose a health app,” said Kyle Bangen, MS, a strength and conditioning specialist at Samaritan Athletic Medicine (The SAM) in Corvallis.

You may like an app that counts your steps, reminds you when it’s time to work out, gives you new exercises to do each day or helps you keep track of your nutrition. Bangen supports any app that helps keep you motivated and notes that since several studies show that people who track their nutrition tend to take in fewer calories overall, a nutrition app can be a great place to start.

According to research published in the journal Translational Behavioral Medicine, the National Weight Control Registry reports that the most important predictors for maintaining weight loss are tracking daily nutrition, daily weight and daily exercise. And although the study found an app itself doesn’t necessarily change your behavior enough to lead to weight loss, it can be a great way to gain information.

Free and paid apps are available for smartphones, and web-based programs such as myplate.gov give you the chance to track what you eat. Additionally, many apps let you look up how much fat or calories are in a meal at popular restaurants, track your daily food group requirements to see how many vegetables you’re really getting, and even add your favorite recipes for a nutrition calculation.

MyFitnessPal is a top downloaded free app that allows you to track nutrition and exercise. Or try the Livestrong MyPlate Calorie Counter and the Johnson & Johnson 7 minute workout if you feel overwhelmed by complex health apps.

“Just like budgets for your finances, knowing where your calories come from and how much you’re moving is helpful,” said Bangen. “But ultimately you want to choose what works for you.”

Ready to take your training to the next level? Schedule an appointment at The SAM and meet your performance goals.