Making Exercise Enjoyable
What's the hardest part about exercising? What makes people give up? What keeps them from pushing forward and achieving their fitness goals?
While it isn't easy to say any specific reason here, it seems fair to agree that one of the biggest factors that keeps us from getting into a regular exercise routine is the lack of visible progress. It's certainly one of the things that made me want to avoid working out for years, and chances are I'm not alone. After all, when you are out of shape, physical activity is rough. You beat yourself up at the gym or out on a trail for a few days, feel sore all around, and then make some excuses as to why you should stop for a bit. Rinse and repeat this cycle every few months, and you ultimately end up no further down the road of fitness. The Nike+ Running application attempts to solve this problem of discouragement in several different ways. Still skeptical? I was too at first, but stay with me and I'll try and sell you on why you should really give this thing a shot.
Basically what the Nike+ Running app does is make your jog competitive, yet encouraging. Pop your headphones in, start up the app, and begin running. As you go, it will periodically lower the volume of your music to give you an update. The app's "narrator" will tell you how far you've run, and your average pace per mile. It uses the GPS on your mobile to track the roads that you are on, and when you're done, it will give you all the juicy statistics about your workout. You will be able to see how many calories you burned, how far you ran (down to the hundredth of the mile- this also works if you are on a treadmill), and a whole lot more. You can also select how your body felt after the workout. But what really makes the Nike+ Running app make you coming back is the encouraging banners it waves to you when you push the "End Run" button.
Since the application is tethered to your Nike+ account, it is constantly tracking you and watching you improve. Even if you can't see yourself getting better or faster, the app will make sure that you know you're doing well by shoving the results right in your face. It will show you all kinds of congratulatory banners if your most recent run was your longest, or had the fastest pace per mile. The statistic tracking runs really deep that it will even go so far as to tell you if the first mile of this run was faster than the first mile of your previous runs. In essence, it makes running seem a bit like a video game- the type of game that you just want to keep playing and improving. You can also your "all time" stats, like how many miles you have run since you started using the app, and your average pace per mile across all of those times.
All of this information can be shared through social networking sites if you choose. If one of your Facebook friends has something encouraging to say, it will be forwarded to you instantly. Or, if you'd prefer to brag about that seven minute mile you just ran, you can share that information with the world. Who knows, maybe in the future we won't have dating websites like eHarmony or Match, we'll just share Nike+ profiles!
If you are training for a big upcoming competition like a 5K, then the Nike+ Running app may be of good use to you as well. Prior to heading out, you can set up the app to do a timed run or a distance run. It will periodically give you updates. And when you go onto your computer and the Nike+ website and login, the information you get is even more detailed than what you can get from your phone! The distance you ran will show up on as a sort of heat map, so you can tell which parts of your run you did the quickest, and where you were moving slower. It even goes so far as to give you a graph of the correlation between elevation and how it affects your running. While some of these features may seem like overkill or unnecessary, the fact that they are all available free of charge is still an awesome thing. Plus, it's another step closer to humans being able to constantly monitor and improve themselves.
Another cool feature is that if you have and a friend are getting into shape at the same time, you can link up your accounts to see which one of you is performing better. And hey, even if you don't end up beating your buddy, you're both still winning because you end up in shape. There is also a music player built in. It basically just scans the music library on your iPhone or Android and shuffles the songs. If you want it to play specific, you have to make a special exercise playlist and select that. You can also select a "Power Song", and at the tap of a button, you can be listening to that special song that makes you happy or angry or whatever it is that drives you to finish up as fast and intense as possible.
Altogether, I really can't recommend the Nike+ Running app enough. I never thought I could appreciate a mobile application so much, but it really has changed the way that I exercise. I used to dread runs, and had to rely on personal willpower to get out there. Now, everything comes much easier. I'm constantly checking out my own statistics, and it gives me an unbeliavable amount of encouragement to see how far I've come. And nothing compares to the feeling of slowly working your way up, shaving off seconds each and every time you lace up your running sneakers.