Building a Fitness App: 8 Million Steps and Counting

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Sitting around all day can wreck your body

WDP Get Fit Challenge Building a Fitness AppDesk workers often complain that they don’t get to engage in as much physical activity as they would like, and being stationary at a desk all day long can have some potentially serious side effects on our bodies. Research shows that when you sit for a significant portion of the day, as most of us office workers do, you face a higher risk of muscular skeletal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and more.

  • As soon as you sit, electrical activities in the leg muscles shut off
  • Calorie burning drops to about 1 per a minute
  • Enzymes that are responsible for breaking down fat drops, which in turn causes levels of good cholesterol to fall


Make time to move around

It is inevitable that many of us will sit for long periods of each day, but it is highly recommended that you interrupt sitting whenever you can and engage in activities such as:

  • Walking
  • Stretching
  • Jumping jacks


The intersection of fitness and technology: Building the Fitness App

This lack of physical activity and increased weight gain (along with the season of good weather approaching) inspired a group of us technology fanatics here at IBM to design a fitness app running on the data and analytics technologies of IBM Watson Data Platform. The goal of this gamified solution is to help teams reach their desired daily activity goals, and have fun while doing it.

Fitness Challenge iPhone Getting Started Screen


We used Watson Data Platform services to host our fitness challenge web application.

Some of the cutting-edge cloud-based services leveraged to build this solution were:

  • IBM Cloudant
    • Stores persistent data, such as user steps, relative weight loss and more
  • IBM Data Science Experience
    • Analyzes the datasets stored in Cloudant, such as user steps and relative weight loss, and displays the data in a graph format
  • IBM Streaming Analytics
    • Quickly sifts through large amounts of incoming data and locates targeted results, such as heartbeat, activities and more
  • IBM NodeJS Runtime


8 million steps and counting

Through this app we can see that employees in more than 15 countries are participating in the fitness challenge including locations in North America and Europe. Currently, our top fitness contenders are well on their way to joining the 1 million steps club.

If we combined all of the steps that the competition group has walked together since we launched this app internally at IBM a few weeks ago, we would have a whopping 8 million steps — which is what it would take to walk from the East to the West Coast of the United States! And the competition is not even complete yet.

With the help of three IBMers who are super enthusiastic about fitness – Faham Khan, Sean Sabour and Paul Portela – it only took one week to implement the full end-to-end architecture for this fitness tracking application.


Visualizing fitness data to encourage competition

IBM Data Science Experience has really helped us to quickly analyze and visualize our user data for the fitness challenge. For example, you can see a sum of the overall steps per user, aggregated from the start of this six-week competition to the current point in time for the top 10 participants:

Fitness Application User Metrics


Soon, we will share a more technical blog post that will outline how to create a fitness tracking solution of your own and host your very own team challenges with the IBM Watson Data Platform. We hope this will get your teams motivated to perform at elevated heights during the season for health and fitness!

In the meantime, explore the Data Science Experience for yourself by starting your free trial, here!



via Bluemix Blog

June 14, 2017 at 03:45AM