I’m a fitness app addict but I know they sabotage my workouts
Two summers ago, Shaelyn Strachan, an associate professor in the psychology of exercise at the University of Manitoba, joined her brothers on Nike+ Run Club. She noticed that they got into a competition where they were trying to outrun each other and she knew that wasn’t necessarily wise.
Strachan’s research, which will be published this month in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, has found that people who are compassionate towards themselves when pursuing fitness goals are significantly more likely to be successful than those who are self-critical and hard on themselves. She sees the competition set up by mobile fitness apps as the exact opposite of what people should be doing.
Strachan is also critical of apps that give people external goals, such as time or rank, because she says that self-determined goals, such as enjoyment or learning a new skill, are more likely to give athletes a sense of well-being.
Fitness apps that foster competition can lead to racing. According to Strachan, workouts that turn into daily races make exercise less likely to be sustainable and may lead to burnout.