Social Fitness Gets Mobile: Rides, runs, and virtual high fives


Mobile fitness applications that put social at their core are shaping the way that we work out. Mobile apps like Runkeeper and iMapMyRIDE allow users to receive virtual support from friends or challenge others for the top spot while working toward their fitness goals.

The Mobile Movement

Mobile fitness applications take advantage of smartphone features by employing GPS technology to map routes, playing audio tracks during activities, and connecting to social networks to allow users to easily share updates. Apps also provide a nearly seamless method for uploading data to the Web, and many sites allow users to choose what information they share publicly.

The social side of fitness applications also makes exercise more fun. “We’re seeing a huge shift in how our consumers approach health and fitness,” said Jon Belmonte, chief media officer at Active Network in a July 2011 press release. “While online fitness tools remain as popular as ever, we believe it’s the growing social element that is making a real difference in people’s fitness efforts. It’s no longer a personal decision – in fact, it’s almost not ‘real’ until you socialize your fitness commitment through Facebook, Twitter or your blog.”

During a workout, mobile devices give users access to personal contacts, maps, and weather data. This information is helpful in moments of an unexpected flat tire, wrong turn, or thunderstorm.

What motivates you?

Before you head to the Android Market or iPhone App Store to download a fitness application, consider what motivates you to get moving. A few motivations might include:

  • Realizing a personal goal
  • The adrenaline rush of competition
  • An opportunity to raise awareness for a cause

There are countless other reasons why people exercise, but the list above illustrates that motivation differs greatly. Thus, your personal motivation for fitness should be addressed by the social fitness app that you choose. For example, if you enjoy tracking your progress and working toward a personal goal, then you should seek out a social fitness application that includes journal-like feature for goal setting and daily activity recording.

Ready, Set, Go!

Do you prefer that your fitness routine includes friendly competition? Seek out a social app that allows you to select personal contacts or join a network of like-minded competitors. The RunKeeper app includes an option to add your contacts or other RunKeeper users to your “Street Team” in order to stay motivated. The Street Team feed sorts by activity, so it’s easy to see who is active (or, who you need to beat).

Do you love discovering the local area on two wheels? Users of the iMapMyRIDE app can choose to share their favorite routes with the public. Route records include a map of the entire ride along with mileage information and tips from other cyclists.

By encouraging social sharing of mapped journeys, social fitness applications allow users to learn about local running routes, bike-friendly roads, hiking trails, and more. Group fitness leaders use social fitness applications as a means to remotely provide training routines and to assist with keeping groups together and on the right route.

Sticking to your fitness goals boils down to discipline. Lucky for us, there’s an app (to inspire) that.

What mobile social applications do you use to eat healthy, stay fit, and share the experience with others?

[Image credit: stock.xchng. Retrieved on October 20, 2011, from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/674935/ ] [Source: Active. (2011 July 13). “Investor Press Release: Active.com(R) Surpasses One Million Social Media Fans.” Retrieved November 14, 2011, from http://investors.activenetwork.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=179599&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1584711&highlight= ]