Facebook Fitness Apps

Facebook and fitness. Who knew these two seemingly disparate pursuits would blend so magically together? But fitness apps (and social competition in fitness activities) have seen huge growth since app developers got access to Facebook’s Open Graph.

Due to Open Graph integration with apps from Nike, RunKeeper, Garmin, and many others, we lowly Facebook users are starting to humblebrag (or just regular-brag) about our real-world fitness exploits.

For example, my brother and dad are both really into running and biking — the longer the distance, the faster the mileage, the better. Nowadays, I can’t log onto Facebook without seeing one or both of them posting via a third-party app a highly detailed update about their latest run or ride, including the exact route, time of day, and elevation changes.

And one of my favorite online friends has recently picked up running as a new hobby and is already making huge strides (pun intended), booking it around Virginia in high temperatures and for long distances. Her Facebook feed is full of hilarious jokes about the training experience as well as lots of support and encouragement from friends.

So, as fitness becomes one of the more popular things we’re all talking about on Facebook, fitness app-makers are seeing a lot of growth. It’s kind of a chicken-egg question: Do we talk about exercise on Facebook because we have the apps, or did devs make the apps because they realized everyone was talking about exercise on Facebook anyway?

That we may never know. What we do know, thanks to a new Facebook Developers blog post today, is that the Nike+ Running app saw a 77 percent increase in traffic after integrating Facebook Open Graph. And mobile training app Endomondo saw traffic grow more than 150 percent after plugging into the Open Graph. RunKeeper and Runtastic each saw a 25 percent traffic bump.

The best practices these early-adopting Open Graph fitness apps have to offer are simple and, one would think, obvious: Use Facebook for logins. Show a map for outdoor activity statuses. Let users tag their friends. Let users post about their achievements, not just their activities.

These apps all integrated with Open Graph back in March, when the whole idea of “actions” came into play for third-party Facebook developers. Facebook said other fitness apps, such as Livestrong, MapMyRun and MapMyRide, are still just getting started.

But one thing’s for certain: As much as Facebook wants to keep you glued to its fascinating pages for hours on end, it’s also becoming easier to leave Facebook behind and plug your other, real-world activities into Facebook while you’re on the go. Ergo, even though you’re leaving the website itself, it’s still becoming more ubiquitous by the minute.

Image courtesy of Ljupco Smokovski, Shutterstock