Whether you’re trying to run your first 5k, lose a few pounds, be more mindful of your activity levels or simply need motivation to get up in the morning and workout, a fitness or nutrition app might just be the tool you need to help kick start your efforts. And just in case you need proof these apps actually work, a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, found that app users are more likely to exercise during their leisure time, compared to those who do not use exercise apps, essentially fulfilling the role that many of these apps were designed to accomplish. Data also suggest one way that exercise apps may increase exercise levels and health outcomes such as BMI is by making it easier for users to overcome barriers to exercise, leading to increased self-efficacy.
And it’s those barriers to exercise that cause many people to skip out on workouts. That’s why fitness and nutrition apps can be a useful addition to your heath and fitness program. Many of the fitness and nutrition apps listed below have similar features and tracking devices that help you become more aware of your eating habits and activity levels. But the key to finding the best app, is to try them out and determine what is the best fit for you.
Consistently ranked as one of the best fitness apps in the industry, MyFitnessPal features a database with more than 5 million foods, a barcode scanner and a recipe importer. And it just takes a few simple steps to set up and quickly track food and exercise anytime during the day.
It can be integrated with more than 50 other fitness apps and devices and is compatible with a number of fitness trackers, so it can estimate ow many calories you burn automatically by pulling your activity data from your tracker.
The basic version of this app is free to download, while the premium version will run you $9.99 per month. Works with iOS, Android and Windows.
2. Couch to 5k Running App
It’s pretty safe to say we can all spare 30 minutes per day, especially if it is only three days a week. Beginners and seasoned fitness enthusiasts will enjoy the built in metrics that analyze performance and progress and even track the results on two separate graphs.
And best of all, you can share your progress on social media with other running friends and family. This added layer of accountability is one of the reasons the Couch to 5k App works so well.
Available on iOs and Android for a one-time fee of $2.99.
3. Lose It!
For a “tech challenged” user like myself, Lose It! is fairly simple, yet very effective to use. Simply download the app, input some basic information about yourself, and a custom weight loss plan will be created for you. Then start logging your food and exercise.
Lose It! offers simple, easy-to-use tools for tracking what you eat and do. Just search it, scan it or snap it. Search for foods and exercise types in their database of over 7 million items, scan your food package with our the barcode scanner, or snap a pic and let Snap It, a new feature, do the rest. You can even create goals with a group of friends, challenge friends or yourself and get support from the group to stay on track.
Works with iOs and Android and is free for the basic version. Lose It! Premium is $3.33 per month.
I’ll be the first to admit the idea of mindfulness and mediation freaks me out. I have a hard enough time making it through 15 minutes of yoga, let alone stretches of time when I’m “alone with my thoughts.” But, in order to find some peace in my life, I gave the “Orange Dot” a try.
Touted as “your very own personal trainer, here to help you train your mind,” Headspace is revolutionizing how we think about mindfulness. Users can start off with the free Take10 program, which introduces you to the practice of meditation for 10 minutes a day in 10 days, and then change to a subscription service with a deeper range of mindfulness exercises that range from a couple minutes to one hour.
With an easy-to-use interface, inviting animations and how-to’s about dealing with everything from panic attacks to relationship problems, this convenient health app will have you feeling calm in no time.
After a 10 day free trial, users are prompted to select a subscription option, with the $7.99 per month being the most popular.
Sworkit, which stands for “Simply Work It” and according to their website, working it is exactly what you’ll do. Simply select the part of your body you want to work out by choosing from over 20 pre-built workouts, or create your own workout. And the best part about this app: Sworkit is built to fit your schedule. Fit a workout in before work, while the kids are napping, or when you just need a boost. Sworkit provides video instruction and audio cues to take you through the workout and make it easy to follow along.
A basic version of Sworkit is available for free, or you can upgrade to a premium version offering features such as no ads and trainer support for $2.99 a month. Available on iOs, Android and the Web.
Photo: N i c o l a, CC-BY
Sara Lindberg is a freelance writer specializing in health, fitness, and wellness.