Although technology is everywhere, it might not have occurred to you until recently that it could play a part in your fitness regime. However, technology is now taking over here as well, bringing some very welcome developments. One of these is the arrival on the market of a range of fitness apps for smartphones, to help you keep track of your health more effectively.
The problem is that new apps are appearing almost every day, so it’s hard to find time or motivation to check them all out. How do you know which of them will repay your time and effort, and are worth precious storage space on your phone? Here are 5 of the latest fitness apps that I recommend. These fitness apps have proved to get results and are among the most effective — and all of them are free.
Keep Track of Calories with Lose It!
One of the most popular apps for weight loss is Lose It! — popular because it really enables you to keep track of your entire calorie intake. It’s a known fact that the vast majority of dieters underestimate the amount they eat each day, which is why so many diets fail. With Lose It! you can be sure of accounting for every single calorie.
When you start with Lose It! you enter all your personal information, including your gender, height, weight and how much weight you aim to lose, and you are then given a daily calorie budget. Each day you see a graph throughout the day, showing how many calories are left for that day. It takes account of the calories you have burned with exercise, with calorie burn calculated for each type of exercise activity.
One of the outstanding features of Lose It! is the incredibly comprehensive food database, which includes every food you can think of, and many you can’t. It also includes restaurant foods, to help you when eating out. And a particularly helpful feature enables you to connect with friends, so you don’t feel on your own.
Fooducate — No More Poor Eating Habits
While Lose It! focuses on calorie values, Fooducate for iPhone is an app that focuses on the actual nutritional quality of the food. It can really be an eye-opener about what is actually in your food, even the foods you thought were healthy. It also warns you about danger points you might not have thought about, such as the amount of sugar or salt in a particular food.
With Fooducate installed, you simply use your iPhone camera to scan the barcodes of food items, and the app gives you a score ranging from A-D. The lower the degree of processing in the food, and the higher the nutritional value, the higher the score, so a green vegetable would get an A, while a sweetened carbonated soft drink would get a D. If you want to follow a specific type of diet, such as whole-grain only, or gluten-free, you can customize the app for this. You certainly have no more excuse for poor eating habits with Fooducate.
Good Food Near You
If you want to find the healthiest food options in your immediate locality, there is an app called GoodFoodNearYou to help you do this. You can use GPS to find your location, or you can type it in manually, which is useful if you’re on the move, and then search by fat, calories, carbs, sodium or cholesterol. The app then brings up a list of restaurants in the locality, and identifies items on the menu with the desired nutritional values.
This is a very useful concept, but the app does have its limitations, the main one being that the restaurant choice is limited to fast-food and chain restaurants. It lists very few local restaurants, and these are usually the ones that offer the freshest food. However, it does also list grocery and convenience stores, so that you can buy ingredients for a healthier meal.
Hot5 — a Popular Fitness App
Looking at apps for fitness workouts, one of the most popular is the Hot5 Fitness app, for several reasons. It is designed to fit in with today’s busy lifestyle, where people have little time for lengthy exercise routines, and provides a series of videos with short high-intensity interval workouts. It is also highly convenient, as with it being on your phone, you can use it wherever you are, without having to worry about Internet or WiFi connection.
The Hot5 app has an exceptionally user-friendly interface, and is very simple for even the less tech-savvy user. It offers a wide range of workout types, including cardio, yoga, Pilates, strength training and weight-loss exercises. The workouts are guided by leading trainers, with each trainer having a series of five videos to work through.
Motivate Yourself with Pact
A different approach to fitness is provided by the unique and fun Pact, formerly GymPact, app, designed to encourage you to set fitness goals and keep to them. Each week, you have to set a target number of gym visits or workouts for the coming week, and agree to a fine of between $5 and $50 for not reaching your target. At the end of the week, if you have achieved your target, you get a payout from the money paid by users who have failed to reach their goal.
Your visits to the gym are verified by the GPS locator on the app. Alternatively, for workouts not at the gym, you can use Motion Tracker, whereby the iPhone’s motion sensor detects a particular level of activity, and there are also the third-party Partner Apps, which enable third-party workouts to be imported. Recently, two new nutrition-based goals have been added.
The Pact app was founded on the known principle that people are actually more motivated by not losing money, than by earning money. The weekly payouts are small — 25-50 cents per workout — offering little incentive to cheat, but sufficient to provide satisfaction. The best motivation is to set a fine for yourself that will hurt if you have to pay it.
All these fitness apps are ingenious and well thought out. Having all five should provide all you need for a healthy lifestyle. But remember, the apps won’t do the work for you — achieving your health and fitness goals will be down to your own effort and discipline.