• Bastien Soulé
  • Gonzalo Marchant
  • Raphaël Verchère


Sport and fitness mobile applications (SFMAs) have led to significant changes in how people engage in sport and physical activity. This development is part of a broader trend of self-tracking (the ‘quantified self’) and gamification, whose effects are discussed in an increasing number of publications in the humanities and social sciences. The aim of this interdisciplinary literature review is to provide an overview of the main research results on these apps. It summarises their emergence and the discourse of those who promote them, the factors leading to their adoption, their uses in practice, the reasons for their abandonment or rejection, and the risks and perverse effects linked to their use. The main sociological, psychological and philosophical interpretations of the phenomenon are also outlined: mobile applications as a tool for behaviour change, the agentive capacities of these sociotechnical systems, and the contemporary imperative of self-management. Some users find real support in SFMAs to set goals, plan their sessions, and/or to make physical activity a regular routine. However, for others, their use becomes excessive, leading to frustration or changes in social behaviour. Many studies point out the difficulty of engaging athletes in the use of SFMAs in a lasting way. While instances of long-term and balanced use are not uncommon, they coexist with use that borders on obsession, or even forms of dependence. We conclude with current research priorities and highlight avenues of research that merit further study.


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