I’m currently looking at ways of enabling students to log their exercise as part of a health, fitness and well being unit of work. Tracking exercise activity will enable students to monitor their progress and set regular targets. On researching such software I have come across many tools which are both web based and app based for handheld devices (i.e. iPod touch). One such app is the Map my Fitness app which is part of a family of apps including map my walk and map my run. The following is my opinion on what features of this tool may be for a school based PE programme.
The app is available on iOS, android and blackberry as well as being web based. This means students could log activities using their own handheld devices or one’s supplied within school if students are not allowed their own devices in school. However they could also log activity using computers in or out of school. This could be beneficial if you are asking students to log all of their physical activity, both in and out of school.
Logging in to the app is a quick and simple process that can be done via email, facebook, twitter or google. Logging in via google is an excellent option for any schools who, like ours, provide students with google passwords. They will have to set up usernames and passwords, and students forgetting/losing these could become an issue! It is also worth noting that if students are using school devices they should log out of their accounts once they have completed their session.
Once logged in you are presented with a home screen which includes a record workout and log workout option (see above photo). The record workout option allows activities such as jogging or cycling to be logged via GPS. This is similar to apps such as RunKeeper. The log workout option allows you to choose from a wide range of activities from football training to a lower body weights option. This process is very simple however if you are doing an activity that is not on their list you can not add your own. The list is however substantial. The simplicity of this process makes it suitable for school use as students could log their sessions at the end of lessons, possibly as part of a cool down. If devices are not available in lessons they could make a not of their activity and log it when they get home. It may be worthwhile noting that weights activities can not be logged by reps, sets and weight lifted so if you are looking for a tool to do this, specific weight training apps such as Viaden Mobile’s Fitness HD or GAIN Fitness might be more suitable. Although many may see this as a negative in terms of tracking exercise progress, at a school level it may be positive as logging activity does not take as long, will not require one device per student and won’t require too much explanation time within limited curriculum time.
The app also has a nutrition section for logging food intake. This would be of particular interest when delivering diet and nutrition to examination level students at GCSE, BTEC or A Level. With regards to these examination subjects this app could be an excellent way of logging exercise as part of students’ coursework.
The software allows synchronisation with a variety of other tools such as nike+, FitBit, Polar and Garmin however I am yet to utilise these.
Map my Fitness also allows users to invite friends to see their progress. Adding a teacher would allow staff to monitor student progress throughout a unit of work. Combing this with a goal setting and rewards programme could provide an extremely motivational environment for students to learn how to exercise for health and fitness benefits.
On the whole the simplicity of this app makes it a very suitable tool for use within school PE programmes. The fact that activity can be logged via an app on a handheld device or the web means it could be done on a lesson by lesson basis, within PSE lessons or at home. If however you are looking for a tool that will monitor details of reps and sets in a weight training or conditioning programme this is not the tool. This, in it’s FREE form is, as it says “on the tin” an app to “Map” your exercise.