Top Five Health & Fitness Apps

Friday, 25 January 2019

One of the keys to achieving your health and fitness goals is being consistent.

One of the keys to achieving your health and fitness goals is being consistent. Creating new exercise routines and physical activity habits is no easy task. While nobody can do your workout for you, thankfully, with a little help from technology, it has become much easier to plan fitness activities and track your progress (without going broke). Here are five of the best (mostly free) health and fitness apps for tracking and planning.

  1. Strava

Strava is a sophisticated (and free) fitness activity tracker. It records your walk / run / cycle / swim routes via GPS tracking, can map out a route for you, and analyse nearly every performance metric imaginable. Strava can help you to train smarter in three ways:

  1. Track and analyse: Get key stats like distance, speed, pace, elevation, and kilojoules burned
  2. New routes and maps: Pick from popular walking, running and cycling routes in your local area that local Strava users have used
  3. Challenge and compete: Compete with other local Strava users to be the fastest on a particular route

Best features of Strava:

  • Compatible with many different types and brands of devices e.g. smart watches, heart rate monitors
  • Beacon: Turn on Beacon and you can share your location in real time with your friend, partner, parent, child – anyone who might need to know where you are.
  • It’s a social network: Record an activity and it goes to your Strava feed, where your friends and followers can share their own races and workouts, give kudos to great performances and leave comments on each other’s activities.
  1. Couch to 5K Runner

The hardest part of any run is taking that first step. Couch to 5K offers running novices all the advice, support, and help they could possibly need. Couch to 5K runner is an exercise program consisting of three weekly sessions of 30 minutes and goes for eight weeks. It starts with alternating walk / jog intervals, and the intervals of jogging gradually build up over the eight week to a full 5km. A human coach voice is heard through your headphones telling you when to walk / run. It can be used outdoors, or indoors on a treadmill, and is compatible with lots of GPS tracking apps.

Best features of Couch to 5k Runner:

  • Great for easing you into your new regime, so you can realistically work your way from a 15-minute route to a 5K run
  • Each workout is guided by a voice over from the likes of Olympian Michael Johnson
  • The voice over works over the top of your own music
  1. Sweatcoin

This app basically pays you to move and exercise, and it is completely free to use! Sweatcoin converts your steps into currency units called Sweatcoins. You can spend Sweatcoins on goods, services and experiences on the marketplace, with Sweatcoin partners, or exchange them with family and friends for whatever you fancy. The fitter and healthier you become, the wealthier you get. For example 0.95 Sweatcoins is equivalent to 1000 steps, and a ‘gift’ which you are given for joining. In the marketplace, there are four ‘marathon’ offers, including an iPhone XS, $1000 cash, and a curved Samsung TV – all of which are achievable with 20,000 Sweatcoins earned over 24 months and invites sent to friends.

Best features of Sweatcoin:

  • If you have ever needed an incentive to exercise, this app could be your motivation-boosting answer. The app pays YOU to get fit.
  1. Sworkit

Touted as the number one fitness app for beginners. You choose what kind of workout you want and how long you have, and Sworkit shows you what to do with voice and video instructions. You don’t need a gym, or any equipment to do the workouts. Sworkit aims to be suitable for all types of people and abilities e.g. those too busy to workout, beginners, athletes, people with injuries, the young and old, and travellers as it can be done from a hotel room. First you select the level of difficulty from easy, medium and hard, then exercise categories from upper and lower body, core, cardio, yoga / pilates, and stretching. You can then choose your stance from floor-based, standing or seated, followed by impact level from low, normal and high.

The best features of Sworkit:

  • Seven minute guided workout options for those who are time-poor
  • Access to Sworkit on a web app and Apple TV meaning you can display your workout on the TV
  • Six week programs with goals like ‘leaner’, ‘fitter’, ‘stronger’ for beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

Note: Sworkit is free for 30 days. You can then subscribe for $110 per year.

  1. My Fitness Pal

An oldie, but still a goodie is sitting at number 2 on Apple’s Health and Fitness Apps. This app allows you to track your exercise, steps, and your diet from a database of over six million foods. Upon sign up, you enter your current weight and choose a goal from weight loss, weight gain, or weight maintenance. The app then allows you to search for and enter in breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and drinks, adding up your kilojoule, protein, fat, carbohydrate, sugar, fibre, and some vitamins and minerals as you go. Physical activities can also be logged, with the app subtracting the “kilojoules burned” from your daily total to illustrate your energy balance for your given goal. Use caution here, as these calculations tend to overestimate true energy expenditure.

Best features of My Fitness Pal:

  • The food data base includes culturally and globally diverse items and cuisines
  • App offers “food insights” where you learn how to make healthier foods choices
  • The app syncs with many other devices and brands
  • It is easy to track your water intake in cups or millilitres (mls).

While fitness apps won’t do the work for you, they can help you get motivated, get started, show you how to exercise, and track your progress. Now that you’re armed with some of the best, it’s time to get started!

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