In the corona pandemic, many people discovered online sports offers and health apps for themselves. In an interview with the sports scientist Ingo Froboese reveals how a good program can be recognized and how we move more in everyday life star.
If you scour the kiosk for apps on your smartphone for exercise programs, you will now find numerous offers. As a sports scientist, how do you rate such programs?
Ingo Frobose: Especially in these times of inflation and rising prices, it is very important that such an offer does not cost too much. It must be designed to be low-threshold so that people can install and use an app. If that is the case, it can be a success – we saw in the corona pandemic that around 17 to 20 percent more online offers on the subject of health were called up. With such an exercise program via app, people can organize their everyday activities flexibly and independently.
Many employees have been sitting in front of the screen all day and then also doing sports on their smartphones – is that really good?
If I can’t clear my head while exercising because of the screen, then that’s actually a problem. But apps or online sports courses can be designed in such a way that you detach yourself from the screen.
What are the advantages of online sports offers?
The biggest advantage is of course that I can use it whenever I want: the flexibility is great. It can be used to reach all those people who do not want to go to a club or a gym. And those who prefer to exercise alone.
And what are the disadvantages?
The problem with online offers is that nobody controls how I do the exercises. In the gym, the coach can watch me and say whether it was that good or not. This is missing from an app.
For whom movement apps are suitable – and for whom not
Is there a danger that incorrectly performed exercises will harm us?
In fact, doing an exercise incorrectly could result in injury. If there is an introduction to the movement in the first few hours of the program, the risk can be minimized. The bigger problem from my point of view is that the training effect only occurs if I also choose the right load, i.e. the right exercises and the necessary number of repetitions are determined for each individual.
More and more seniors aged 60 or 70 are also using a smartphone. Are they also a target group for sports apps?
The use of such programs is becoming more and more widespread, and even 70-year-olds are now using the sports apps. Of course, a digital exercise offer for seniors must look different than one for children.
To whom would you advise a check-up with a doctor before using an app with exercise offers?
I think it’s important that there is a question and answer session and introductory instructions for movement courses via app. There, the previous experience and previous health problems should be inquired about. In the case of certain illnesses, a message can be displayed that prompts users of the app to go to a doctor’s office before starting the exercises in the app.
Which sports are actually suitable as an online offer?
All gymnastic exercises that are related to the mobility of joints and have a strengthening effect are suitable. Dance that promotes coordination through choreography is also good. I can also use the app to build muscle and prevent back pain.
How we integrate movement into everyday life
If you look in the apps stores, you will find many sports and exercise apps. What points should users pay attention to in order to recognize a good app?
As already mentioned, there should be a survey on age, gender, previous experiences, problems and illnesses before the program starts. In addition, the interests and training goals of the users should be queried – this way different programs can be issued or different intensities for the exercises. It is also very important to look at who is behind it. It should always be people from the subject – with an academic qualification.
For whom is sport in a group more suitable?
In general, of course, for all team athletes – football, handball or volleyball can of course only be played in a group. Sport in a group is also suitable for those for whom social contacts and social integration are important. But it’s also not an either/or. It often happens that on the one hand I do sports in a club and supplement the training at home with online offers.
And how do we manage to move more in everyday life?
Collecting movement points means taking as many steps as possible. Climbing stairs is a wonderful cardiovascular workout. Instead of taking the car or the bus, I can walk or switch to a bike. Also, people in office jobs should break inactivity in the chair and stretch every hour.
And everyone has to think about something for their free time: The World Health Organization recommends at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular training per week. And twice a week muscle training in the form of gymnastics with your own body weight – this can also be done via app.
How can real couch potatoes get moving?
This is one of the greatest difficulties. Anyone starting out should always set small goals that can be achieved within six to eight weeks. After that, I should reward myself, because after this time there is always a low level of motivation. And keep setting new, small goals for myself. The time for sport should be entered firmly in the diary to get some structure. In the beginning it is good to make an appointment with your partner or to dance with the child. It also has a social obligation, which can make it easier for some.
The best exercises to stay fit
What sports are best for people who are sedentary at work?
It is important to activate the cardiovascular system, i.e. walking, cycling or jogging. That’s certainly the best thing to do. The older you get, the more important muscles and muscle mass become: If we sit a lot, we lose muscle mass and muscle strength. This is the greatest danger to our mobility. In this respect, we should do endurance training two to three times a week and supplement it with muscle training.
Office workers in particular often struggle with back problems. What can you do at your desk in between to alleviate the symptoms?
For example, you can walk around while on the phone and occasionally do tasks while standing. You don’t need a height-adjustable desk for this, the laptop can also be placed on a shelf in the home office. You should also get up from time to time, walk and do stretching movements to the right, left, up and down.
Stretching the abdomen is very important. This is how it works while sitting: You lean far back and take your arms with you. The hacker is a wonderful exercise: I sit up straight, my upper arms are on my body, my arm is bent at the elbow, the thumb of my open hand points upwards, and I perform very quick, small hacking movements for 30 seconds out of. When I do that, it’s wonderful for the back muscles. I should do this for a few minutes every hour so that my back benefits.
The best yoga poses for beginners – with variations for every level
What do you think are the top three exercises that everyone should incorporate into their weekly schedule to stay fit?
The most important exercise is the squat, because it trains your thighs and buttocks: You sit on the chair, then raise your buttocks, stand and lower yourself and briefly tap your buttocks on the seat. The following exercise is good for the stomach and back: I bend my upper body forward and place it on my thighs. Then I go back up and lean backwards – like a pendulum movement. The third exercise is the push-up: for advanced users, it is on the floor – toes and hands are supported and the upper body is straight off the floor. He is pushed up and down. Otherwise you can also support yourself with your arms on the desk and go up and down with your upper body.