How much time do you spend messing around on your smartphone? For the average American, it’s about an hour a day. (We, the gadget-obsessed staff at Informr, actually thought that number sounded a little low.) Now imagine you could spend that time for self-betterment, instead of mega-time wasters like Candy Crush? With one of these handy fitness apps, use that hour for good instead!
Get motivated and get off the couch, learn some new exercises, keep track of reps, calories, and best times, even cater a workout plan that works for your crazy, unique lifestyle. Your phone can be your trainer, coach and that pal that keeps you going.
Here are our picks for the 5 best free apps to help keep your fitness resolutions to get in shape.
Fitness trackers -- sleek wristbands that can monitor things like your heart rate, calories burned and sleep quality -- are currently getting a lot of buzz on the personal tech market. However the wearable technology, such as the Nike Fuelband, can run you up to $150.
For something that’s a little lighter on your wallet, try the Nike+ Running app, which uses your phone’s GPS and accelerometer to track your distance, pace, and time when you go for a run. With a nice, easy interface, you can create running challenges for yourself and also challenge your friends. Nike draws on your competitive nature, and lets you see how your runs stack up with friends. You can also share your route and mileage, because there is no better motivation than being able to show off your accomplishments.
Endomondo Sports Tracker
This fitness app includes a variety workout activities -- from running to windsurfing, weight training to dancing, and helps you track your progress. You can measure your personal fitness level with fitness tests or sign up for challenges, some from corporate sponsors and some user-generated, to see how your results compare with others.
One of the coolest features: you can find running or cycling routes created by other users in your neighborhood, to switch up your routine, and try to beat their best time. Another neat aspect: it connects to your Google Play music library so you can organize your favorite workout playlists. There is a premium version that offers personal training plans and other additional features for a $4.99 monthly subscription.
If you are a yoga newbie, apps are a great introduction to the practice. You don’t have to worry about twisting into poses in front of other people, just give yoga a try at home with your smartphone!
Daily Yoga is good for beginners -- there are several short workout videos that will teach you the basics and you can go at your own pace, and stop or replay different parts of the video easily. The main app shows all the available sessions in a nice interface, as well as multi-week workout programs and a pose library. When you choose the session you want, the app will prompt you to download it from the app store, which requires an extra step, but it keeps only the sessions you pick on your phone, so saves on memory. Upgrade to the pro version for more advanced workouts. One of the best parts is the music -- the app includes a playlist of some very nice, calming music so you can practice on your own, or just enjoy some soothing tunes.
Fitness Buddy is focused mainly on strength training, with some exercises requiring free weights, kettlebells or resistance bands. It includes a pretty extensive exercise library, for example it has almost every known way to use a dumbell clearly explained with gifs to show the proper form. Keep track of your weight and reps on the calendar to track your progress.
There is a nifty “body map,” reminiscent of a highschool health-class drawing, to help you find exercises by the muscle group. There are also some multi-day workout programs designed for different goals or fitness levels, or you can build your own.
Noom Weight Loss Coach Editor's Pick
If your goal is weight loss, Noom is one of the most popular apps around, combining diet and health coaching, calorie logging and workout tracking. When you first log in to Noom, you enter your personal weight-loss goals and program intensity (easy, average or intense) and the app sets you up with a plan and a calorie budget. The meal tracking is a breeze, the pedometer is fun, and the notification options will remind you throughout the day to keep on your plan. The free version has lots of ads that prompt you to upgrade. The pro version is a monthly subscription that gives you a very tailored, personal weight loss plan with specific goals and aims at your needs, such as time, diet peeves (hate counting calories?), and motivation.
Noom has so many useful features and a easy-to-use design that makes tracking your fitness entertaining and addictive, instead of feeling like a chore. There is even a barcode scanner to use when inputting packaged food. Even if you are not looking to lose weight, the Noom app can be fun and useful for keeping track of workouts and just improving general health.
Make Your Workout Work for You
Technology is at it’s best when it can do something to simplify your life, and these fitness apps are a great example of that.
There is an app out there for everyone -- whether you are into running, yoga, weight lifting, or even if you’re just getting started with exercise on a new health kick. Find what works best for you, based on your fitness interests, and an app can really help keep you motivated and improve the quality of your workouts.