An Athletic Trainer’s Guide to the Best Fitness Apps
Health authorities, researchers, even the general public consistently point to technology as the reason behind our increasingly inactive society. Now, a growing number of health and fitness apps are turning that conventional wisdom on its head. In fact, the latest data suggests that smart phone technology actually acts as an important ally in the battle of the bulge. It’s as easy as downloading a free app (or pay a few bucks) to gain a treasure trove of fitness tips at your fingertips.
Trouble is, with the fitness app market exploding, it can be tough to select the right app for your unique needs, let alone put it to good use. But fear no more! Whether your goal is to lose weight, enhance strength and flexibility or run a 5K, I’ve highlighted five of the best apps available now to help get you moving.
- MapMyRun: MapMyRun tracks and maps your route via GPS and encourages you to share your treks via Facebook, Twitter or with other MapMyRun users. It also allows you to keep a nutrition log alongside your workouts to get a complete picture of your health. A bonus: The compatible website features 26 million routes that have already been taken, so you can plot out a new course. Cost: Free
- MyFitnessPal: MyFitnessPal delivers tools to help you achieve your health and fitness goals. Dubbed the easiest food diary on the Web, MyFitnessPal tracks your activity and food intake using a searchable database of more than 1 million food items. And that’s a huge advantage since studies show the more consistently you track what you eat, the more likely you are to lose weight. A supportive online community serves as a forum for success stories, weight loss tips, and perhaps, a little healthy competition. Reading about other dieters’ journeys can be astonishingly inspiring. Cost: Free
- Sworkit: With randomized circuit-training workouts you can do almost anywhere, Sworkit designs customized routines for users instantly. You choose the length of your workout, the area of your body you want to target (think abs, glutes or upper body) as well as the type of workout you’re craving (cardio, stretching or sculpting) and voila, instant workout success. Cost: Free
- YogaStudio: Select a level (beginner, intermediate or advanced), duration (15, 30 or 60 minutes) and focus (strength, flexibility, relaxation, balance or combination), and YogaStudio points you to one of 65 pre-made classes uniquely suited to you. Classes come with a full HD video and easy-to-follow teacher commentary that won’t fill up your phone. Download sizes are about 10 times smaller than traditional HD videos. Cost: $3.99
- Couch to 5K: A great program for people who are interested in running a 5K, Couch to 5K offers an 8-week training program to gradually introduce you to activity. With just three half-hour workouts every week, even those new to exercise will feel motivated to give it a try. Cost: Free
- FitBit: With Smartphone technology advancing at light speed, companies like FitBit are including wearable devices as part of their app technology. Promising to deliver an all-in-one experience for everyone, FitBit offers nutrition and activity tracking, along with online challenges, community support, and yes, a sleep monitor. Cost: Wearable wristbands start at under $15.
No matter what your fitness goals are, having tools at your fingertips can help pave the way to success. The best apps not only offer workouts and tracking technology, but also help you connect with others to share your goals, triumphs and struggles. Plus, knowing you have to come clean about bouts of mindless eating may make you think twice before hitting the fridge.
For more advice on adding more activity to your life, check out our MoveWell section with posts low-cost tips to get fit, adding more yoga to your daily life, the specific benefits of strength-training vs. cardio, and more.