5 healthy apps to help kickstart your year

18 Jan 2016

It’s January, you partied too much in December and you already fear the onset of February, so now, you want to get healthy. Here are some apps to ease you through the wheezing transition.

Cards on the table: I’ve done far too little sport in the past few weeks. I kept active right up until Christmas – even managing a game of squash that very morning – but, since then, I’ve retracted into my shell, keeping warm while the rest of the world freezes.

But it’s time to dust off those running shoes, put on those bike lights, throw out those boxes of Roses and at least try to improve my quality of life.

After checking out the best fitness wearables at last week’s CES, now we’re throwing our eye over apps and the good news on that front is, for the large part, cost isn’t a concern.

General health

Motivate Me (Android) is a great app. I haven’t had this app too long – and, to be honest, there are dozens very similar – but I already like it.

You start by filling in your name and what you want to do – have more energy, lose weight etc – and logging your general eating times.

From there a storyboard is created and you just sit back and react when told to do so. Daily habits are logged as you go along, while prompts for eating more meals, more often – of fruit and vegetables where possible – lines you up for a healthier diet.

It is designed far better than any fitness or health app I’ve seen before, too. There’s no iOS version of this but App Crawlr has done some work already to list a bunch of alternatives.

Healthy eating

MyFitnessPal is where we start here (Android, iOS). Simple in its premise, this app ‘tracks your health’ throughout the day. What this means is, should you go the whole hog and pair it up to pedometers and the likes, it can tell you how many calories you’re burning while also, if you pay enough attention to it, monitoring your food intake.

Recent additions to its arsenal include the ability to recommend restaurants to users based on their caloric requirements, but its new progress pics element could prove a big coup. Nothing inspires those looking to lose weight as much as visual, personal evidence.

The promotional video is a bit of a snoozefest, all the same.

Running (Beginner)

Couch to 5k (Android, iOS). For running, there is simply no other option out there for beginners. Couch to 5k is so popular that there are a whole bunch of similar copycat apps out there now too.

The idea is so simple. So very simple. Interval training can sound a bit too professional for people wary of hitting the roads in their new, never-been-worn running gear. Anything ‘too’ anything can put people off, giving them an easy excuse to sit down and watch Making A Murderer instead.

So with the interval-training term mildly obscured from view, couch to 5K simply gets you started by running for very short time frames, and walking the alternating stretch. So for example you run for 15 seconds, walk for 15 seconds. That ramps up day by day and before you know it you’re running for five minutes, seven, ten, 20, 30 until you eventually hit that 5k mark in less than two months.

Once there you can just push on if you want.

Running (Advanced)

MapMyRun (Android, iOS) remains a staple on my phone. One of the older apps out there for active people, MapMyRun lets you build your route on a standard map, measuring the distance, inclines, expected times etc.

What marked MapMyRun out early on was the logging capabilities. It lets you note what mode of transport you are taking (walk, run, cycle etc) and if it’s commuting or as a form of exercise. You track your times, learn new routes and boast to your friends about how well you’re doing.

Simple, and fun.


Strava is an app that can be used for multiple activities, but the ideal pairing is with cycling. Incredibly simple in premise, Strava (Android, iOS) creates its intervals everywhere you go. You simply log in, turn on your GPS and hit the road.

Everybody who uses the app has their time over distances logged, resulting in a constant scoreboard to get your competitive juices going. For example, you might feel awful as you struggle up Howth Head or the Conor Pass on your first day back in the saddle, but what if you were told that of 400 people who took that route that day, you were 217th?

Not too shabby. Of course, if you really want to feel good, hit the hills nice and early so you are ranked 1 of 1. Then don’t look again for the rest of the day.

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Main image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic