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On the Road Again

Posted 5/16/2017 by UHBlog

Need tips about maintaining your fitness while you’re away from home? Ask us.

On the Road Again

The uses for your mobile phone continue to expand. It can organize your schedule and remind you where you’re supposed to be. You can bank and shop on it, and use it to find the most efficient directions to any destination. You may even be reading this article on it.

Today, your smartphone can also help you to stay healthy. A virtually countless number of health and fitness mobile device applications motivate you to keep fit – while at home or on the road. Various apps measure your steps, log workouts, count calories, map a jogging route, monitor your pulse, collect and store workout data, and even coach and motivate you to push ahead.

In 2010, MobiHealthNews.com wrote that there were 5,820 medical, health and fitness apps available for smartphones. In 2014, reported DigitalTrends.com, there were 100,000 apps dedicated to mobile health available for Android and iOS platforms.

Some fitness apps are free, and some come with a nominal cost. Many of them can be helpful in one way or another, says pediatric sports medicine specialist Amanda Weiss Kelly, MD, who is an avid runner.

“Fitness apps are another tool to help people to be more active,” Dr. Weiss Kelly says. “Generally I have a good impression of fitness apps, and I use several of them.”

One of her favorites, she says, is Map My Run.

“If you’re in a city away from home and want to do a five-mile run, for example, Map My Run will map it out for you,” she says. “Most runners know exactly what five miles is from their own front door, but when you’re traveling, you may not know. Along with mapping, this app will track your splits and elevation gains so you can compare how you’re doing from day to day. Some people may not care so much about all of this data, but to a runner, it’s a big deal.”

Dr. Weiss Kelly also uses Nike + Run Club and Fitbit, a wristwatch-style device that captures and feeds data like number of steps, heart rate and quality of sleep to a related mobile app.

“I use the Fitbit because it communicates with my hospital’s health system and gets me points to decrease my insurance costs,” she says.

For non-runners, Nike + Training Club and similar apps offer a variety of workout plans, Dr. Weiss Kelly says.

“Say you want to do 5 to 30 minutes of core workout exercises,” she says. “The app will give you around 40 different workout options at different fitness levels. If you’re traveling and confined to a hotel room, or there is no fitness center available, there are apps with yoga and other workouts that you can do in a confined space. Most of the apps out there are helpful. You may have to do some searching to see which one works for you.”

If checking out 100,000 apps to find the right one for you seems daunting, many websites offer some advice. For example, popular computer and technology site PCMag.com in December 2016 published its choices of the 25 best fitness apps of 2017.

“It may not be the end of the world to miss a workout when you’re traveling, but if you’re a frequent business traveler, you don’t want to be getting out of your fitness routine,” Dr. Weiss Kelly says. “There are a lot of mobile apps that can help you to stay on task. Personally, I love to run in cities that are new to me. It’s a fun way to see new places. Map My Run helps me do that.”

At home or away, she says, mobile apps can be valuable tools to motivate people to exercise.

“A person I know checks the number of steps she walks at the end of the day, and if she is a little short of her goal, she makes the extra effort to take a 5- or 10-minute walk and get those extra steps in,” Dr. Weiss Kelly says. “That’s what we hope these apps will do for people – to encourage them to be a little more active.”

Amanda Weiss Kelly, MD, is a pediatric sports medicine specialist, the division chief, Pediatric Sports Medicine at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, and the division chief, Pediatric Sports Medicine at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. You can request an appointment with Dr. Weiss Kelly or any other doctor online.

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