Get fit with your phone: Get a head start on New Years' resolutions with the help of social media

Published November 22nd, 2015 - 11:59 GMT

It may seem anecdotal, but ask just about anyone who's had a serious fitness regimen about the role of social motivation, and you'll hear stories of running partners, gym buddies and well, even the odd story or two of the pretty girl responsible for staying committed. Yet, finding a fitness partner, one who shares your goals and schedule, is becoming increasingly difficult these days. A recent study from the University of Pennsylvania suggests that health buddies on fitness-focused social networks and apps may have the same effect.

Think about it: folks using these apps and sites are there for the same reason you are? and seeing updates on your timeline that others are exercising is a great reminder to make time in your day as well. You know, like having a training partner? only multiplied by a hundred!

Take the RunKeeper app for instance, which lets you track a variety of activities using your phone's GPS - not just running, as the name would suggest - and a bunch of other data such as your calorie intake and heart rate, if you have compatible gear. Once you've got it up and running, you can add friends from your contacts, Facebook or e-mail and comment on their activities and their workout stats right from within the app. Best of all, it has an active community in many cities and the app even lets you find new running friends based on your location, or search for people who are at the same fitness level as you.

You could also try Runtastic, which adds aerial maps, graphs and dashboards to visualise your daily runs, and show off your running accomplishments on the social network of your choice.

As you start getting serious about your fitness tracking, consider the Fitocracy social network. Much like other social networks, Fitocracy has profile pages and walls where you can post status updates, and even has groups to segregate different activities, say a running club or a gym group. What it does differently is that it gamifies your workouts - for each workout you record, you earn points that help you level up, much like in a role-playing game. You can also earn points and achievements by completing related milestones/quests, such as pushing yourself to run a kilometre in say under six minutes. What I really liked about Fitocracy is that it does not discriminate against any form of exercise, and lets you log all types of exercise, from brisk walks to lifting weights to yoga and martial arts!

Then there is Pact (previously known as GymPact) which takes a rather unique approach to keep you honest to your morning gym routine. Pact hits you where it hurts most-your wallet! When you set up the app, you are asked to make a pact by putting money into your account and setting how many days you want to work out. If you miss a day, you forfeit money from your account, which gets divided among those who stayed true to their pact. It's punishing, but completely fair.

Bear in mind that while the social motivation may help you shed those kilos, some of these apps and networks lead to over-sharing information far too easily, and you may end up bombarding your social timelines with your fitness updates (I'm looking at you, Runtastic). Ensure you scour the privacy settings with some caution, but that pretty much goes without saying about anything on social media these days.


Placement Portal

UK-based professional networking site LinkedIn has introduced a new service called 'Placements' in India, which helps students and freshers in finding their first job. The free desktop and mobile-friendly portal is aimed at "making the placement process easier, transparent and more efficient".

According to LinkedIn, with this portal, students can browse and apply for jobs, attend preliminary interviews and also accept or reject job offers. Recruiters can post jobs, view and shortlist candidates and also make offers. The portal has been developed by LinkedIn India's product development team and India is the first market to pilot this product. DY Patil, FMS Delhi and PESIT are among the 14 colleges that have already adopted the pilot, a statement by LinkedIn said.

Twitter Hearts

Twitter has changed the star-shaped icon for 'Favourites' to a heart-shaped button and is now calling it 'Likes'. "We want to make Twitter easier and more rewarding to use, and we know that, at times, the star could be confusing, especially to newcomers. You might like a lot of things, but not everything can be your favourite," the social networking service said in a blog post.

The popularity of 'hearts' on its video streaming app Periscope was another reason for the change on Twitter and also on its video sharing service Vine. Though the move was initially not taken positively by users, Twitter claims it has seen a six per cent increase in 'Like' activity in just the first week of its introduction.


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