Whether you are looking to lose weight, quit smoking, get more physically active, or do any number of things to improve your overall health…..there’s is probably an app to help you do it. A new study, just released in the Journal of the American Heart Association, suggests online health tools are helping – but it’s unclear whether these kinds of behavioral changes will be sustained over the long term.
Mobile apps and web-based programs do help people reach health goals like exercising more, losing weight and quitting smoking, but studies need to follow-up longer to see how sustainable these interventions are, according to a recent review of existing research.
“Our results suggest internet-based and mobile-based interventions can be effective tools for behavioral modification,” said lead author Dr. Ashkan Afshin, the Assistant Professor of Global Health at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Researchers looked at more than 200 studies and tracked how effective apps were in helping users improve their health in areas such as diet, exercise, weight loss, smoking cessation, and reducing alcohol consumption.
According to Reuters News, “Overall, interventions using web-based programs did produce results with regard to improved diet, physical activity, body fat loss and reducing or quitting tobacco and alcohol. Mobile interventions, including apps and text-message reminders, helped people improve their physical activity and lose excess body fat.”
A Tucson.com report added that while smartphone apps and websites provide an inexpensive alternative for people who want to adopt healthy behaviors but can’t afford a gym membership or nutrition plan, people should be careful about choosing the right app.
Avoid any app that purports to accurately test blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol levels or anything else related to your current physical shape, she (Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women’s heart health for Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City) said.
“The apps that are helpful are the ones that teach you how to exercise, how to eat better, how to lose weight, how to monitor your lifestyle choices,” Steinbaum said. “Any app that is a testing app, do not buy into those. But things that help you monitor your behavior, the accountability apps, those are worth looking at.”
Share your thoughts on how these online tools might help people living in your community. Helping people make better choices and live healthier lifestyles will go a long way toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!