Getting fit and healthy is often top of the list of New Year’s resolutions and, while there’s a whole world of wearable tech out there for fitness fanatics, we have some starter apps that require no more equipment than the humble smartphone.
If weight loss is your goal for 2014, MyFitnessPal is an easy-to-use calorie tracker to help you on your way to a healthy size. Available free for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices, this app creates a profile based on your age, gender and current weight then lets you set a target weight and time-frame to reach your goal. The app then calculates the daily calorie consumption required to get you there. All that’s needed then is for users to input their daily food intake by either scanning barcodes or manually inputting foods from the app’s database of over 3m. MyFitnessPal provides graphs and statistics so users can easily spot their pitfalls and corrects its suggested intake based on progress to date.
Counting calories alone is not going to help you reach the pinnacle of health, though. For those just dipping their toe in the exercise game, Human is the best place to start. This app focuses on the bare minimum required exercise for healthy living, encouraging users to get out and about for at least 30 minutes per day. The simple app is currently available on iOS only and is free to download.
The Couch-to-5K training programme claims to do just that and get users off their sofas and running a comfortable 5km in just nine weeks. Segmented into three 30-minute sessions per week, the Couch-to-5K regime starts off easy so as not to discourage couch potatoes and, if you stick with it, you can graduate to the 5K-to-10K app.
Couch-to-5K is one of only two paid apps to make our list, but we think the small fee is worth it for this tried-and-tested programme. Both apps are available on iOS and Android and it costs €1.51 to get from the couch to 5km, and just €0.74 to go the distance for 10km.
For more experienced runners, RunKeeper is a simple and free feature-rich app for iOS and Android users. Using your phone’s GPS, RunKeeper will track your run in real time and provides audio alerts throughout to keep you on track and motivated. Your runs and overall progress can be shared on social networks and the app also charts your progress so you can literally see how you’re doing. Data is synced to the RunKeeper website for those that would like to get more involved in the community built around this app. RunKeeper also lets you set goals and plan a training regime, and can track walks, hikes and bike rides just as easily.
Zombies, Run! is the second paid app to make our list, all because of its unique motivational technique. Available for both iOS and Android devices, users can choose between the 5k Training app (€1.79) or the Epic Adventure version for €3.59. As you run, Zombies, Run! supplies you with a soundtrack that places you amidst a zombie apocalypse, driving you to run as if your life depended on it. Taking the gamification of exercise even further, you’ll need to keep an eye on your township’s supplies between runs (or ‘missions’), as your exercise programme becomes embedded in a compelling storyline.
Of course, there are many more ways to exercise than just running (even if you are running for your life). Fitocracy is an app that rewards users with points, badges and level-ups for all kinds of activities, be it jogging, swimming, pumping iron or a spot of jazzercise. Incorporating social elements, Fitocracy uses the motivation of your peers to keep you going. The app is free from the iTunes App Store and Google Play, and will connect you to a community of over 1m helping to boost each other’s performance.
Nike Training Club
The Nike Training Club app harnesses the fitness expertise of one of the world’s best-known sports brands and offers a range of workouts based on three levels of fitness. Users can choose to target specific areas of the body and routines range from 15 to 45 minutes. The more you work out, the more bonuses you unlock in the app, including new routines, recipes and fitness tips. Available for free for iOS and Android devices, the app talks you through exactly how to perform the required routine with helpful step-by-step videos.
While most of our selected fitness apps are free, using GymPact could end up costing you money – but only if you fail to meet your gym-going goals. To ensure you make the most of your gym membership – often bought with the best of New Year’s intentions – GymPact challenges users to set a target number of gym visits within a set period of time and wager a bet that they will honour that commitment. Miss a gym date and you will be fined. Reach your goals and you will be rewarded with funds from gym skivers at the end of the week. Available free on iOS and Android, GymPact has also partnered with RunKeeper to financially motivate your outdoor exercise commitments as well.
Jogging with smartphone image by Maridav via Shutterstock