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Strachan is also critical of apps that give people external goals, such as time or rank, because she says that self-determined goals, such as enjoyment or learning a new skill, are more likely to give athletes a sense of well-being. Fitness apps that foster competition can lead to racing.

According to Strachan, workouts that turn into daily races make exercise less likely to be sustainable and may lead to burnout. Michael Stickland , a cyclist and a professor of pulmonary medicine at the University of Alberta, believes there is a time and a place for fitness apps. While he agrees that fitness apps have the advantage of helping people work harder, he also believes that they can lead to people over-training.

Nike+ Run Club MiBand 1s Heart Rate measure iOS

Stickland says that he has personally learned to use the technology appropriately. His secret? He regularly does workouts with his favourite app, Zwift, turned off. Strachan, like Boyd, believes that mobile fitness apps that encourage people to race every workout fly in the face of common sense.

Competitive apps are sabotaging your workouts. It’s time for compassionate fitness goals.

Yet there is a disconnect between what experts say and what they do. While Strachan knows that these apps do not allow for much self-compassion and are at odds with quality motivation, she plans to go back to using one while running this summer.

Strachan says that the successful behavioral changes people need in order to reach new fitness goals require them to choose a sustainable activity—something that people can imagine doing day in and day out. Tomorrow, I will return to the gym after a two-week absence.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.