4 posts categorized "Sports"


Text Messaging as a Weight Loss Tool?



Is text messaging the next big weight loss tool? Very possibly. Research has clearly indicated people take better care of their health when they keep track of their eating and exercise habits, and text messaging can function as a modern-day food diary. Researchers at Duke University published a study on texting and weight loss in the online edition of the Journal of Medical Internet Research in 2013, which found that tracking health and wellness through text not only saved people time, but potentially made staying with a diet and exercise plan more likely. 


More On the 2013 Study

Duke University researchers studied 50 obese women for six months, with 26 of the women utilizing daily texting as part of the school’s Shape Plan weight-loss intervention. The women lost nearly three pounds each. The other 24 women did not use text messages to help with their weight loss efforts, and gained an average of 2.5 pounds each. The average age of the participants was 38. 

Daily text messages revolved around tips, tailored recommendations such as “no sugary drinks,” and taking 10,000 steps per day, as well as feedback. Participants received text messages every morning from an automated system, such as "Please text yesterday's # of steps you walked, # of sugary drinks, and if you ate fast food." The automated system sent customized feedback based on what the participants replied, as well as a tip. 


The Benefits

Dori Steinberg, a post-doctoral obesity researcher in the Duke Obesity Prevention Program and the study’s lead author, remarked that text messaging offered a number of benefits with which other self-monitoring methods cannot compete. Such benefits include the fact that data is easily and quickly entered into a text message compared with other web-based diet and exercise diaries. This ability results in (almost) real-time tracking, portability convenience, and increased personalized feedback. 

Another benefit is the limited number of characters involved with text messaging, which reduces the “detail and cognitive load” traditionally associated with keeping track of exercise and diet. Previous research indicates that long-term health monitoring is lackluster due to time and labor, extensive numeracy and literacy skills, and general burden. 

Study participants noted that texting helped them reach their goals in part because it was so easy. 


More Studies

Other studies concerning text messaging as a weight loss tool came up with similar findings. One study published in the Computers, Informatics, and Nursing journal in 2013 found that participants who utilized text message services lost more weight than those who did not, with texts including motivational messages, healthy snack ideas, and other tips. As with the Duke University study, texting was an interactive process that required participants to text “yes” or “no” regarding whether or not they put the advice into practice. 

Another study looked at text messaging as an “intervention medium” for weight loss, and found that SMS is an informative, encouraging, easy-to-use, affordable tool for managing weight and overall health. The study called for more substantial, randomized trials to determine optimal use for text messaging as a weight loss tool, among other things. 

Will text messaging become synonymous with weight loss? It certainly looks that way...



10 Fitness Apps for the Year Ahead



In 2015, the top three New Year’s resolutions were: 1) lose weight, 2) get organized, and 3) save money. Losing weight may be a tired cliché as far as resolutions go, but in 2016 the apps available for people inspired to get fit are anything but ordinary. 

Here’s a breakdown of the best fitness apps available in 2016 to help get you on your feet and in the best shape of your life. 


1) Pact

Have you ever made a deal with a friend to motivate your workouts? That’s kind of how Pact works except it motivates you with your checking account. Make a financial promise (big or small) then make fitness goals and monitor food consumption. If you keep your promise, you can earn a small reward; if you don’t, Pact debits the money from your checking account. How’s that for some fitness motivation?


2) Spring

If you’re looking for a little Spring in your step, this free music app has got the beat for you. Using a beat per minute (BPM) calculator, you can pick a soundtrack that will get your target heart rate in the zone and your mind focused on your favorite music. 


3) ShopWell

Some of the most intense fitness training users of ShopWell do is in the grocery aisles. ShopWell allows users to generate a profile with specific nutritional goals. Using your phone, scan items at the store before purchasing to ensure you’re getting the best products to keep you on track. 


4) Argus

For people just beginning their fitness journey, few things are as satisfying as seeing progress in nifty charts and metrics. Argus is the ultimate tracking and analytics tool designed to count just about everything. From stairs and jogging to elevation and calories, it’s all here on this free app for iOS users. 


5) FitMo

Most people can’t afford a personal trainer, which is where FitMo comes in. Using all the wonderful technologies afforded by the Internet, you can video chat, send pictures, and text with a real personal trainer at a fraction of the cost. For about $40 a month, you’ll get the one-on-one attention you crave. Personal trainers help set meal plans, training routines, and more for users of iOS. 


6) MyFitnessPal

For an app that’s all-inclusive, MyFitnessPal has a little bit of everything to keep you motivated in 2016. This free app features a large index of foods in a nutrition database so you can record food intake and track progress. It also tracks activity levels and allows you to ask friends for help and motivation if you need it. 


7) Nike + Training Club 

If you’re not sure where to begin this year, the Nike +Training Club app is your starting line destination. Here you’ll discover dozens of workout plans crafted by expert trainers. This app has very useful training videos to ensure you’re doing the workout properly and safely. This app is also great for users at all levels of fitness and is available on both iOS and Android devices. 


8) WOD Deck Cards

For all you crazy Crossfit fans out there, nothing could be easier than drawing a card to select your workout of the day (WOD). With this free app, you can maximize your favorite workout routines from Crossfit in a fun deck of cards. Mix them up and draw cards until your thoroughly exhausted. 


9) Sworkit 

This is a great app for people who can’t ever seem to find the time to workout. Sworkit allows users to select a specific area of fitness (yoga, cardio, strength) to focus on, and delivers workouts that can take as little as five minutes or as long as one hour. This app is free and available to both iOS and Android users. 


10) Sleep Cycle

Waking up early for a morning workout is often harder to do than the workout itself. Sleep Cycle works by detecting your activity level during sleep and tracks your REM. Set a time to wake up and the app will wake you up when you’re at your lightest level of sleep so you won’t feel groggy. 

This year’s best fitness apps are all about focusing on individual goals and performance needs. Pick an app that works best for your lifestyle, and you’ll be sure to meet your fitness goals in 2016. 





Bing Gets into Fantasy Football Projections, as Mobile Ad Spending Continues to Rise


For some Americans, September is the beginning of a new year—a time to forget the past and make the most of the future. More specifically, the 2015 NFL season is about to kick off.


Are You Ready for Some Football?  

According to The Fantasy Sports Trade Association, there were 41.5 million fantasy sports players in 2014. This market represents more than fanaticism; marketers view them as an opportunity, especially on mobile. 

Bing Predicts, for example, has taken strides to improve its prediction algorithms and provide fantasy football players with immediate statistical data using a bounty of helpful metrics. The improvements include individual player projections that analyze several data points such as social signals, recent games, match-ups, and roster changes as well as adjustments to the coaching staff. 

Additional features include updates on free agents as well as “Power Rankings,” which is a list of predictions for division winners and likely playoff teams.  

Does this sound too good to be true? This Microsoft service is not without its own motivations. Despite significant gains on Google in the most recent quarterly earnings report, Microsoft hopes the new player algorithms will provide enough incentive for fantasy players to keep using Bing well after the NFL season.


Familiar Territory  

This is not the first time an algorithm or prediction-based software has made the rounds in fantasy football leagues. Yahoo, in fact, uses a company called Pro Football Focus to make its predictions. Additionally, Bing Predicts branched out in recent years to other sporting events like the World Cup and Wimbledon, as well as big events like the Academy Awards and US elections. 

Bing’s marketing initiative follows a familiar path. As mobile behavior increases, so too will the marketing spent in this arena. According to eMarketer, search ads, like the ones you’ll see on Bing, are predicted to reach nearly $14 billion this year. Harnessing the fantasy market isn’t just about helping users win fantasy games: it’s about winning consumer dollars.  

But will it help you in your fantasy football quest? Maybe. According to Walter Sun, Principle Applied Science Manager at Bing, during the knockout round of the 2014 World Cup, Bing went 15 for 15 in its predictions. Last NFL season, Bing’s game predictions were just shy of 70 percent accuracy. 

Whether or not users score the perfect fantasy season is irrelevant to Bing’s marketing plans—they are predicted to have a favorable season. 



Hi Tech Trackers Helping Fitness Go ‘Back-to-Basics’



Consumers bought some 84 million fitness tracking devices in 2013, and the trend shows no sign of abating. Fitness experts predict a continuation of the soaring popularity of wearable fitness gadgets over the next 12 months, according to a recent Reuters article.

Companies cited in research conducted by HIS Inc include San Francisco firm MyFitnessPal, which drew on data from its 47 million users to show how digital fitness apps like the one they offer are increasingly being used to help people manage their workout regime.

One of the more counterintuitive finds from the analysis is that hi-tech solutions are enabling people to go back to more traditional forms of exercise, like running and cycling. Zumba, the dance and aerobics routine that you couldn’t escape hearing about in 2011, has lost some momentum, suffering a 9% drop in participants during 2014.

So are people really shunning the hi-techery of the gym in favor of monitoring the morning jog with wearable fitness trackers? Trend watchers seem to think so, and academics agree. According to the Reuters article, The American College of Sports Medicine has identified body weight training - which uses minimal equipment - as one of the top fitness trends in 2015.

So how has technology changed our attitude towards personal fitness? Unlike laptops and phones, wearable tech puts the focus squarely on the body. The insight provided by the low-effort activity of strapping on a Fitbit Flex is opening up a new way of working out, whereby we no longer have to trust a trainer to tell us how effective each routine is - we can see for ourselves.

The efficacy of wearable tech is largely down to its invasiveness. Fitness trackers and the apps they talk to actually become part of your physicality. They become unavoidable. The enormous success of programs that do everything from sending you motivational reminders to slapping you with a fine if you fail to perform a certain task attests to a fundamental truth about human nature: we need to be reminded, nagged, guilt-tripped, even blackmailed before doing what we're supposed to. That, it seems, is what’s truly good for our health.