The Use of Mobile Applications to Collect Data in Sport, Health and Exercise Science: A Narrative Review

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Abstract

Mobile devices are ubiquitous in the population, and most have the capacity to download applications (apps). Some apps have been developed to collect physiological, kinanthropometric and performance data, however the validity and reliability of such data is often unknown. An appraisal of such apps is warranted as mobile apps may offer an alternative method of data collection for practitioners and athletes with money, time and space constraints. This article identifies and critically reviews the commercially available apps that have been tested in the scientific literature, finding evidence to support the measurement of resting heart through photoplethysmograpy, heart rate variability, range of motion, barbell velocity, vertical jump, mechanical variables during running, and distances covered during walking, jogging and running. The specific apps with evidence, along with reported measurement errors are summarised in the review. Whilst mobile apps may have the potential to collect data in the field, athletes and practitioners should exercise caution when implementing them into practice as not all apps have support from the literature, and the performance of a number of apps have only been tested on one device.

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