Smartphone app aims to get Coloradans moving |

Smartphone app aims to get Coloradans moving

Special to the Daily

Not everyone can be an athlete, but that doesn’t mean a healthy lifestyle is out of reach. That’s what Centura Health is trying to tell Colorado residents with its new smartphone app, called Movementum.

The app is designed to track the phone user’s daily movements. Moving the entire body a minimum of 30 inches constitutes a “move.” The app then translates the movements into quantities such as miles traveled or calories burned. Rather than just showing the numbers, the app converts the amounts into equivalents. For example, a user might be told that she has burned up the same number of calories as found in a cheeseburger or a bag of chips, or that he has walked the same distance as that between Denver and Vail.

Another goal of the app is to encourage users to continue active movement. Records are kept on the user’s personal best, with updates as it increases. Friendly competition among friends is encouraged, with weekly challenges and sharing capabilities to compare with others.

The app, designed by Centura Health, Vladimir Jones and Rapture in Venice, launched March 15. Since then, around 67 million moves have been logged by users.

Notably, of the 60 percent of users who provided gender information upon registration, about 70 percent were women.

“The app is designed to be a fun and competitive way to make users aware of their movement by helping them visualize the collective power of individual change one move at a time,” Gary Campbell, president and CEO of Centura Health stated in a press release. “Movementum is a great social way to get people talking about health, about movement and about the healthy competitive spirit that lives in all of us.”

One of the goals in developing the app was to engage those in the population who aren’t as active as athletes or those in training. While many smartphone apps cater to fitness enthusiasts or people training for marathons, for example, Centura Health decided to target the portion of the population that isn’t into extreme exercise. This led to the idea of tracking everyday movements.

To further motivate its users, the app awards “badges” for each accomplishment. A badge might be awarded for reaching a certain number of moves, for example, or maintaining enough moves consistently for a three-day streak. The “Night Owl” badge appears for movements made during the hours between 1 and 4 a.m.

While information like that provided by the Movementum app can be useful, it’s not a replacement for traditional exercise, said Doug Roessel, owner of Elevation Fitness in Dillon. A trainer with 25 years of experience, Roessel emphasized that casual movement is not the same as exercise.

“It should be taken to the next level. It’s just another tool in the box,” he said of informational smartphone apps. “It should not be a primary form of exercise.”

The app should be looked at as a useful way to gather information, but not as an excuse not to go to the gym, Roessel said.

“When you see people actually use the device and go, ‘Oh, I burned off 1,200 calories walking around today,’ all right, then what else are you going to do? Walking is good but it’s not a weight-bearing exercise,” he said.

Information from such apps can be useful as long as people understand that exercise is still an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, he added.

The Movementum app is currently available for free download in the App Store and Google Play. The app is designed to work on all iPhones with iOS5 or later and all Android phones with Android 2.2 or later.

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