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smartwatch for fitness

How to turn your phone into a fitness tracker

25 May 2016
Mariah - amaysim blogger


amaysim's content guru

Don't want another expensive fitness product gathering dust and cluttering up your place? Check out these healthy alternatives to your fitness woes.

I don't know about you but I'm not a fan of working out. I know it's necessary for maintaining a healthy body, I also know that I like pizza and wine. So when given the choice I want fitness to be simple and enjoyable. And what's simpler than transforming your mobile phone into a health hub, a fitness friend, or a monitoring mentor – simply by using a range of free or inexpensive apps.

We'll get to those in a minute, but for now, let's check out what some of the gurus and researchers have to say about fitness tracking overall.

The research is in… sort of

In 2015, approximately 25 million fitness trackers were sold worldwide from the likes of Jawbone and Fitbit.

But to explain "the why" more generally, we can check in with The University of Wisconsin–Madison. They conducted a study with a group of women, half of whom were given Fitbits, and the other half, a standard pedometer which counts each step a person takes. The difference was striking. It turns out the Fitbit wearers loved using the app to monitor their progress, and after a month, had increased their moderate-to-vigorous physical activity by an hour a week. The researchers claimed the key ingredients were, "self-monitoring, setting goals, getting frequent feedback on your progress, revising goals as needed, social support and developing a sense of self-efficacy."

The good news is you can use a mobile app for much of that.

So, when it comes to technology's new influence on our health and fitness, a big part of the appeal is the novelty of it all. We suddenly have a continual data cycle that gives us real-time goals or games that relate to our approach to sleep, nutrition and exercise, fascinating and rewarding us with heart rate patterns and continually new data insights.

As Lisa Cadmus-Bertram of the University of Wisconsin–Madison says, the evidence now supports the promotion of physical fitness via technology, as "it can help people to become more aware of their actual activity level and to live a healthier lifestyle."

OK, there it is in black and white.

Or is it? A study from Lancaster University tells us there is "no empirical evidence" that devices which monitor movement and heart rate have a long-term effect on wellbeing. They say a third of people who buy the fitness gadgets give up on wearing them after six months, and half do after a year. Oops.

What does it all mean?

I think there is one definite insight we can take from the experts. Our friends from Lancaster did confirm something really important. They say fitness levels really pick up at the beginning of a person's use of devices and apps. So that means it's the longevity of the commitment which makes all the difference.

And when you think about that, this perseverance makes perfect sense as something we can apply to most things we really want to achieve in life. And perseverance is free!

What about accuracy?

It's also the case – so far at least – that fitness trackers (and mobile apps too) are not necessarily always exact. Sure, they're not built to be medically accurate devices, but it turns out they tend to think we sleep more than we actually do, and they also underestimate how far we walk.

That's why it's smart to take the wave of tech-fuelled health and fitness with a grain of salt, and then use it to your advantage.

One option as mentioned is forking out money for a specific wearable fitness tracker. But what if you just want to use your existing mobile for a similar purpose? Not everyone agrees with their findings, but in a 2015 study, the Journal of the American Medical Association says, "We found that smartphone apps are just as accurate as wearable devices for tracking physical activity."

Hooray for that. So with this in mind, here's a round-up of some of the best apps out there for your mobile, and what aspect of your fitness they monitor.

Fitness apps for your mobile phone

Free for Android and Apple users, MyFitnessPal is a mobile app and website that helps you track what and how much you eat, plus how many calories you burn through activity. It's simple and effective, so gets a big tick.

The Jawbone Up app is also free for iOS, Android and Windows Phone users. While you do need a Jawbone fitness device for the sleep tracking part, via this app, the rest all works great including tracking activities like steps, distance and calories burned. The Fitbit app is exactly the same – and being a big name-brand in this space – you most likely know someone using the app already. That means competing online with friends and family will help keep you motivated to walk that extra mile.

Argus is a one-stop shop for tracking activities, workouts, weight and sleep. You can also add goals for caloric intake, water consumption, sleep, walking and weight. There's no need for a fitness tracker, all of this is done on your iPhone or Android device. It can even measure your heart rate using the flash on your camera, which is clever.

On the running and cycling side of life, a popular option is Strava. Free to download plus available in a premium version for approx $9 per month, Strava gets the competitive juices flowing, letting runners and bicyclists compete against themselves or others to beat the best times on a leaderboard.

Also free and available on Android and iOS is Charity Miles. With this app, you can run, cycle or walk your way to good karma, as corporate sponsors agree to donate a few cents for every kilometre you complete.

Last but not least is Endomondo which tracks your runs, bike rides, and other outdoor activities with good accuracy and a simple interface. It's available free via Android and Apple, but the premium version at $29 per year does boost the experience via training plans and coaching features.

Ultimately, the best fitness apps let you set your own goals and maintain a pace that's right for you. Without costing the earth, they keep you motivated for becoming the version of yourself you want to be.

If we've missed any of the main mobile only apps available, let us know in the comments below, we'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading and good luck out there!


Mariah – amaysim's content gal


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Enola Holmes

Everything coming to Stan & Netflix Australia in September 2020

26 Aug 2020

Despite warmer weather conditions creeping into the mix over the past few weeks, spending more time indoors has become the new norm for many of us, which naturally leads to a ton of content being enjoyed from the comfort of our own homes.

Thankfully Australia's two most prominent streaming services continue to deliver the goods, with Stan and Netflix once again set to debut a stack of exciting new releases this September.

Netflix's lineup is headlined by Enola Holmes. Based on the book series by Nancy Springer, the mystery film stars Millie Bobby Brown and centers upon the story of the teenage sister of Sherlock Holmes.

Meanwhile, Young Wallander is a new noir crime thriller that's well worth a look and follows the formative years of Swedish detective Kurt Wallander.

For those looking for a good thriller to sink your teeth into, check out Charlie Kaufman’s psychological film I’m Thinking Of Ending Things. Starring the talented duo of Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons, the film brings some rather interesting themes to the table around escapism.

On the documentary front, keep an eye out for Chef’s Table: BBQ. The acclaimedseries returns for its latest iteration on September 2, delving into the smoky world of barbecue.

Oh and before we forget, did we mention all ten seasons of Friends will arrive on September 17? Bless you Netflix.

Check out the complete list of new shows and movies coming to Netflix Australia this September and get ready for another huge month of at-home streaming.

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    Netflix Australia Original TV

    • Young Wallander (3 September)
    • Away (4 September)
    • Record of Youth (7 September)
    • Get Organized with The Home Edit (9 September)
    • The Gift: Season 2 (10 September)
    • The Duchess (11 September)
    • Family Business: Season 2 (11 September)
    • Close Enough (14 September)
    • Taco Chronicles: Volume 2 (15 September)
    • Baby: Season 3 (16 September)
    • MeatEater: Season 9 (16 September)
    • Signs: Season 2 (16 September)
    • Criminal: UK: Season 2 (16 September)
    • Sing On! (16 September)
    • The Last Word (17 September)
    • Ratched (18 September)
    • American Barbecue Showdown (18 September)
    • Jack Whitehall: Travels with My Father: Season 4 (22 September)
    • Romance On The Menu (24 September)
    • Sneakerheads (25 September)
    • The School Nurse Files (25 September)
    • Country-Ish (25 September)
    • Whose Vote Counts, Explained (28 September)
    • Private Lives (Coming in September)

    Netflix Australia Films

    • La Partita (1 September)
    • Freaks – You’re One of Us (2 September)
    • Love, Guaranteed (3 September)
    • I’m Thinking of Ending Things (4 September)
    • Mignonnes (9 September)
    • Corazón loco (9 September)
    • The Babysitter: Killer Queen (10 September)
    • Se busca papá (11 September)
    • The Paramedic (16 September)
    • The Devil All The Time (16 September)
    • Enola Holmes (23 September)

    Netflix Australia Original Comedy

    • Felipe Esparza: Bad Decisions (1 September)
    • Afonso Padilha: Alma de Pobre (3 September)
    • Michael McIntyre: Showman (15 September)
    • Michelle Buteau: Welcome to Buteaupia (29 September)

    Netflix Australia Original Documentaries

    • Chef’s Table: BBQ (2 September)
    • Bad Boy Billionaires: India (2 September)
    • My Octopus Teacher (7 September)
    • The Social Dilemma (9 September)
    • La Línea: Shadow of Narco (9 September)
    • Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice (15 September)
    • Challenger: The Final Flight (16 September)
    • GIMS: On the Record (Coming Soon)
    • A Love Song for Latasha (21 September)
    • The Playbook (22 September)
    • The Chef Show: Season 2 (24 September)
    • A Perfect Crime (25 September)
    • American Murder: The Family Next Door (30 September)
    • ARASHI’s Diary Voyage ep12 (Coming Soon)

    Netflix Australia Kids & Family

    • The Boss Baby: Get That Baby! (1 September)
    • True: Friendship Day (1 September)
    • Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices (1 September)
    • Spirit Riding Free: Riding Academy: Part 2 (4 September)
    • StarBeam: Season 2 (8 September)
    • Julie and the Phantoms (10 September)
    • Pets United (11 September)
    • Izzy’s Koala World (15 September)
    • Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous (18 September)
    • Chico Bon Bon: Monkey with a Tool Belt: Season 3 (22 September)
    • Mighty Express (22 September)

    Netflix Australia Original Anime

    • The Idhun Chronicles (10 September)
    • Dragon’s Dogma (17 September)

    The Rest

    • A Star Is Born (1 September)
    • The Theory of Everything (4 September)
    • Ride Along (4 September)
    • Friends: Season 1-10 (17 September)
    • Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (28 September)
    • Instant Family (28 September)

    Stan Australia - September 2020 Release Schedule

    Stan has been dropping nothing but gems in 2020, with exclusives such as Yellowstone, Better Call Saul and Billions keeping plenty of Aussies entertained throughout the winter months.

    September's lineup is looking spicy, with a spin off to the hit series Power set to premiere exclusively on Stan on September 6. Power Book II: Ghost picks up after the events of the Power season finale, as Tariq tries to deal with the aftermath of his father's death.

    Other September highlights include The Comey Rule. Based on the New York Times bestselling book A Higher Loyalty, the two part mini-series dives into the events surrounding the 2016 American presidential election and is shaping up to be a must watch.

    Finally, before we wrap things up, if you've recently watched Tenet or are simply a fan of Robert Pattinson, you'll be stoked to hear the entire Twilight film saga will be coming to Stan on September 17.

    Check out the complete list of new content coming to Stan in September 2020 below. Happy streaming!

    September 1
    • Breathe
    • Daddy’s Home
    • Tropic Thunder
    • The Terminal
    • Mapplethorpe
    • Geordie Shore: Season 20
    September 2
    • Hey Duggee: Season 3, Set 1
    • Down Under
    • Material Girls
    September 3
    • American Pastoral
    • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
    • Day And Night
    • German Angst
    September 4
    • A.P. Bio: Season 3 – Premiere
    • Cheers: Seasons 1 – 11
    • Canada’s Drag Race: Season 1, Episode 10 – Final
    • Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season 1, Part 2
    • Paddington
    • The House of Magic
    • Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
    September 5
    • Natural World: Hippos – Africa’s River Giants
    • Monster Beach: Season 1, Episode 25
    • Broken City
    September 6
    • Love Fraud: Season 1, Episode 2
    • P-Valley: Season 1, Episode 8 – Final
    • Power Book II: Ghost – Season 1, Episode 1 – Premiere
    • Below
    • The Extraordinary
    • Proxima
    • Monster Beach: Season 1, Episode 26
    September 7
    • The Circus: Season 5, Episode 12
    • Be Kind Rewind
    • Selma
    • Porn To Be Free
    September 8
    • The Daughter
    • Apocalypse Now
    September 9
    • Red Dawn
    • Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
    • Rosalie Blum
    September 10
    • China’s Artful Dissident
    • Goon
    • Cutthroat Island
    • Furry Vengeance
    September 11
    • The Voices
    • New Amsterdam: Season 2
    • The Blinky Bill Movie
    • Planet 51
    September 12
    • The Biggest Little Farm
    • Monster Beach: Season 1, Episode 27
    September 13
    • Love Fraud: Season 1, Episode 3
    • Power Book II: Ghost – Season 1, Episode 2
    • Monster Beach: Season 1, Episode 28
    • Wyrmwood
    September 14
    • The Circus: Season 5, Episode 13
    • Desus & Mero: Season 2, Episode 46
    • Our Cartoon President: Season 3, Episode 10 – Midseason Premiere
    • Everybody Loves Raymond: Seasons 1 – 9
    • The Lunchroom
    • Dogs Don’t Wear Pants
    September 15
    • Clueless
    • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
    September 16
    • Mirror Mirror
    • Terminator 2: Judgement Day
    • The Aviator’s Wife
    • The Queen of Spain
    September 17
    • Catfish: Season 7
    • Twilight
    • The Twilight Saga: New Moon
    • The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
    • The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1
    • The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2
    • The Host
    • Rambo: First Blood
    • Rambo: First Blood Part 2
    • Rambo III
    • Everybody Wants Some!!
    September 18
    • Desus & Mero: Season 2, Episode 47
    • Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past
    • Hummingbird
    • Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return
    • Astro Boy
    • Dino Time
    • High Tension
    • God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya
    September 19
    • PEN15: Season 2, Part 1 – Premiere
    • The Impossible
    • See Spot Run
    • Monster Beach: Season 1, Episode 29
    September 20
    • Love Fraud: Season 1, Episode 4 – Final
    • Power Book II: Ghost – Season 1, Episode 3
    • Summer of Rockets: Season 1
    • Monster Beach: Season 1, Episode 30
    September 21
    • The Circus: Season 5, Episode 14
    • Desus & Mero: Season 2, Episode 48
    • Our Cartoon President: Season 3, Episode 11
    • Brothers
    • The Sweeney
    • Woyzeck
    • Where the Green Ants Dream
    September 22
    • Nerve (2016)
    • U-571
    September 23
    • Charmed (2018): Seasons 1 – 2
    • Red Planet
    • An Unexpected Love
    • The Dancer
    September 24
    • Fist Fight (2017)
    • Man on a Ledge
    • Aurora
    • Just To Be Sure
    September 25
    • Desus & Mero: Season 2, Episode 49
    • Deutschland 89: Season 1 – Premiere
    • Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds: Season 1
    • Something Borrowed
    • Maggie
    • Petra
    September 26
    • Mechanic Resurrection
    • Monster Beach: Season 1, Episode 31
    September 27
    • The Comey Rule: Parts 1 & 2 – Premiere
    • Power Book II: Ghost – Season 1, Episode 4
    • Sleepless
    • Berry Bees: Season 1 (Part 2)
    • Monster Beach: Season 1, Episode 32
    September 28
    • The Circus: Season 5, Episode 15
    • Desus & Mero: Season 2, Episode 50
    • Our Cartoon President: Season 3, Episode 12
    • St Trinians 2 – Legend of Fritton’s Gold
    • L.A. Story
    September 29
    • The Fighter
    • I Am Wrath
    • Elsa & Fred
    • 70 Big Ones
    September 30
    • Grey’s Anatomy: Season 14
    • Lock Up
    • Intimate Parts