Like most things in modern life, staying in shape has gone high-tech. The world of health and fitness apps is huge, and still growing fast, partly in thanks to the emergence of wearable technology like the Fitbit and Apple Watch.
But whether you wear a piece of tech on your wrist or not, everything from calorie counting to workout logging can be readily accessed from your phone’s app store – yes, your phone and its apps can be your own portable personal trainer! And with summer coming on fast, it’s the perfect time to round up the best health apps available today.
If you’re looking to lose weight, gain strength, or take your running game to the next level, we’ve got you covered with this list of the best apps to help you stay in shape.
If you’re a runner or cyclist who loves to track the details of your workout’s distance, times, and kilometer splits, Strava will be right up your alley. But Strava’s got a lot more going for it than its strong tracking abilities.
It’s also a social app that lets you virtually race other athletes from your area or from around the world by logging your data, so if you need a little bit of competition to motivate you to lace up your shoes, Strava will do the job.
You can also use Strava to connect with other people in your area and meet some new training buddies.
⇨ Visit Strava’s website
If you’re a new runner and you’re not quite ready to join the competition over on Strava, Run 5k is a great app to ease you into running and build up your fitness. There are a many ‘couch to 5k’ apps available, but this one is our favourite.
It offers a simple and intuitive design, and you can customize it to monitor and track your fitness through metrics like heart rate and weight.
⇨ Visit Run5k’s website
Nike + Training Club
Though targeted exclusively towards women, the Nike+ Training Club app gives you access to a large collection of workouts that suit a range of goals and abilities. In line with the company’s “Just do it” ethos, you can do these workouts anywhere, anytime, no equipment required.
If you need some more inspiration to reach your fitness goals, the app also lets you earn points for working out, which you can use to unlock your favourite celebrity’s workout routine.
⇨ Visit Nike+ Training Club website
In terms of sheer popularity, UnderArmour’s MyFitnessPal is the reigning king of health and fitness apps.
The app is a tool for tracking the calories and nutritional information for the foods you eat. What separates MyFitnessPal from the rest of the pack is that it has over 1 million foods in its database – everything from strawberries to Big Macs – so you don’t have to guess or Google the calorie content for everything you eat.
The app also allows you to customize your macro targets for the day, and integrates with most wearable devices on the market. If you unlock the premium version, MyFitnessPal will offer up insight into the best (and worst!) things you’re eating, to help you improve your overall nutrition.
⇨ Visit MyFitnessPal website
The Scientific 7-Minute Workout
Don’t have time to work out? This app begs to differ. From the fitness experts at the New York Times
, this app takes you through a 7-minute, full body workout. It’s a step-by-step guide with animated illustrations that both beginners and exercise-veterans will get something out of.
⇨ Visit The Scientific 7-Minute Workout website
Another good app for people who are short on time, the Tabata Trainer is based on the fitness world’s love affair with interval training. The Tabata method promises a fast and incredibly effective training method, and the app comes with routines for all fitness levels.
The best part? Because the intervals are so intense, you’ll get more bang for your buck and save time.
⇨ Visit Tabata Trainer website
We all learned in Psych 101 that reward and punishment are powerful motivators of human behaviour, and this app plays on that. Pact lets you make money off of the workouts and goals you accomplish – but it also makes you pay up if you don’t achieve your goals.
If you miss a workout, the money you wagered goes into a communal pool. But if you meet your goals, that same pool gives you some money as a reward. If the thought of losing a bet or your cash is something that motivates you to work out, you might want to give it a shot.
⇨ Visit Pact website
You might need a Fitbit activity tracker (a wearable that tracks various things including your steps, calories burned, sleep habits, and heart rate) to make the most out of this one, but you can also use the app (without a wearable device) to track your food intake, weight and other health indicators. And if you own a relatively modern smartphone (e.g. iPhone 5s or later), your phone can even track your steps for you
– no wristband needed.
Fitbit is a good all-rounder for keeping tabs on your health and activity, and the step counting functionality is great for reminding desk-bound workers who are aware of the new “sitting is the new smoking” advice to get some movement into their day.
⇨ Visit Fitbit website
And lastly, if you’re looking for a more old-fashioned fitness approach, consider these exercises
that are perfect if you’ll be sitting at a desk for most of the day.
We hope these apps will help you stay in shape this year. If there are any killer health and fitness apps we overlooked, let us know in the comments below.