I’m not going to give out my actual age (after all, it’s just a number), but, when it comes to technology, I feel pretty strong my “generation” is most appreciative of what it has to offer. My parents are mostly clueless and stumble through the “interwebs” and that Facebook thing and may or may not have answered an email from a Nigerian prince. My kids, on the other hand, have a totally foreign vocabulary when it comes to social media and can update their Instagram, Snapchat (used to), etc, without even looking down, but will continually ask random questions to which the answer is literally in the palm of their hands. Me? I’m in total awe of the information and advancements out there which my kids will never appreciate and my parents will never understand. I’m pretty much sure that if I had all of the information available to me at my kid’s age, I would now rule the world. But, I digress…the whole point of this blog is to talk about the AMAZING apps available for my passion, health and fitness. I love trying out new apps and seeing what they have to offer. I have decided to pick a ten apps that I have tried (or at least downloaded) and give my humble opinion!
- Couch to 5K
Not everyone is a runner, but running is a great cardio workout and if you are going to run, at least get a t-shirt out of it. I’ve facilitated a couch to 5k program and am still in awe of how my participants were so incredulous at what they could do. This Couch to 5K app allows you do go through the program without having to find a group or program. It gives you achievable goals which you can reach in about 30 minutes, 3 days a week for a 9 week program. You are able to sync with your own playlist and can even use a manual entry for the treadmill on those rainy days. The only downside I found was that this app is pretty much for beginners or those who haven’t run in a while.
- My Fitness Pal
This a great app for those looking to get in shape AND lose weight. You don’t have to wear a Fitbit to count your daily steps. My Fitness Pal is not only a calorie counter, but ALSO a step counter. It is a great, easy to use app that allows you to scan your food for a hassle free way to get your calorie intake. My one criticism of this app is that it is too calorie focused and gives a much too low calorie intake than is needed for a healthy weight loss.
- Sworkit (Simply work it)
This is a great app that allows you to utilize premade workouts with videos that you can choose according to your time limitations. You can choose your workout preference, whether it be cardio, yoga, strength, etc. AND it will show you your calories burned. The drawback that I found with Sworkit is that the transitions between activities can be a little fast and you may need to do more than one workout in order to meet your minimum amount of physical activity for the day.
- Charity Miles
Charily Miles is a free mileage tracker app that donates money to specified charities or groups based upon the amount of miles that you walk, run or bike. You are able to choose from numerous, well-known charities and can earn up to 10 cents per mile for biking and 25 cents per mile walking/running. You also have the ability to use this app as a group with your family, friends and co-workers. The money donated comes from the app’s corporate sponsors. I don’t really find a downside to this app since you’re activity not only helps you, but others. If I were forced to find a negative, it is that its map tracking and distance features are not spectacular. BUT, this is a free app that allows you to feel good about helping others out while working out. Double dip!! Use a better map/distance tracking app and this app at the same time!
Strava is like a social network for athletes. It allows you to track different activities focusing on jogging and biking. It has a very accurate GPS and I have found the distances and routes to be spot on. I like that you can “compete” with fellow Strava users through challenges. You do, however, need to be careful about privacy settings on this app. Since the app allows for social networking, strangers have the ability to track your routes. Make sure you carefully read the privacy settings so you don’t run into any dangerous situations!
- Lose It!
Lose it! is one of my favorite apps! This could be because I have used it for so long and it has that safe familiarity. This is definitely a weight loss app that analyzes the amount of calories needed for your body type and exercise level. You can choose from a myriad of exercises and it will tell you how many calories you have burned and calculate this into your allowable caloric intake. It has a bar code scanner to make logging in packaged food really easy. It also has a feature called “Snap it” that allows you to take a picture of the food you are eating and it has the ability to recognize the food. As with many apps, you can go social with it and join challenges. Besides having a less vast food database than My Fitness Pal, you need to go premium to get a greater caloric intake breakdown. It will let you know your total fat and carbs, but won’t break it further down into saturated fat, sugars, fibers, etc.
- Diet Bet
I have downloaded Diet Bet, but have yet to use it. It is, in theory, a great concept. Get paid to successfully lose weight! Essentially, the app allows you to pay to join online competitions where you have a certain amount of time to lose a percentage of body weight. If you achieve your goal, you are paid (your initial fee to join and a percentage of the total pot depending on the amount of participants). You use photos of yourself on the scale with a written code next to the scale. I really like the concept and will probably give it a try at some point. You definitely have a motivation to lose weight and may even make money doing so. My hesitation in this is that the weight loss may be too quick and will lead to crash dieting. Also, while I’m sure the online administrators do their best, it seems like there would be too many ways to cheat the system.
This app gives you daily workout routines based on your fitness level and goals. The 8fit Pro (paid) provides meal plans based upon your tastes and preferences. I’m cheap, so I’ve only gotten the basic 8fit. What I love about it is it integrates with the Apple Healthkit that comes standard with your iPhone. Side note, I never even looked at the Apple Healthkit until I was reviewing the 8fit app….so glad I did! As soon as the workout is complete, 8fit will integrate the data with Apple Healthkit, which in turn will integrate with my other apps like Fitbit…cool! You can set up scheduling and reminder functions for your workout as well. There are several levels of workouts available, from beginner to advanced and some of the exercises will give you modifications for certain things like range of motion issues. The only downside that I’ve found is that you need to pay for the version that includes meal plans, recipes and grocery lists. The paid version also allows for coaching via a chat feature.
- Fitness Buddy
This app allows you to create a custom workout routine for specific body parts as well as catering to different fitness levels as well as your goals, whether it is weight loss, improved strength, muscle definition, etc. I love the instructional videos and animations that show you how to perform each exercise. Fitness Buddy is available in a paid version, which (I believe) gives you more in-depth workout plans as well as meal plans. I did find that the app crashed a few times during the workout videos.
- Zombies, Run!
I wanted to finish with Zombies, Run! since it is not only a fitness app, but also a game. And it is FUN! My daughter turned me on to this app when we were talking about avoiding boredom while running. It is an immersive running (or walking) game. You become a character, “runner 5” and go through a series of missions. You are given the mission based upon how long you want to run. There is an audio narrative which gives you your mission while telling a story. The audio clips are interspersed between music, which you can choose. When using the GPS feature, you can participate in zombie chases. This requires you to run at least 20% faster (to stay alive!) for a short period of time, which is basically an interval training workout. I believe there are six seasons so far. During the runs, you can “collect” items which can be used later in a SimCity type game. I admit, I’ve never gotten this far with the game, I’ve only used it for adding excitement to my runs. There is a paid version which allows you to unlock additional missions.
We always have excuses why we can’t get to the gym to work out or eat healthier. While some may be legitimate, the ease of the fitness app helps to counteract those excuses. With videos, meal planning, progress tracking and virtual challenges, these apps will help to motivate you and make health and fitness a little more enjoyable.