Ten of the best fitness apps to get you going
Apps can help you get moving and track your goals
Apps like My fitness pal are helping people get in shape.
There is an app out there for most things, and that includes getting fit. But do they work?
According to a recent statement in the scientific journal Circulation, a committee of heart health experts said research on mobile health technologies is in its early stages, and it is too early to tell whether they are effective.
Scientifically proven or not, fitness apps are popular and make it convenient for people to get moving or track their health goals.
Mike Hogan, a trainer who runs Ozone Health and Fitness in Ennis, recommends several apps for his clients.
“Fitness apps are good for getting people into the right frame of mind, but sticking with it is down to willpower. At the end of the day, a phone can’t tell you what to do and give you professional advice,” he says.
1. My Fitness Pal
This app is not new, but it is highly recommended by trainers. My Fitness Pal is a free calorie counter that let’s users set goals and record their food intake.
Hogan calls it “the only app that is standing the test of time”.
According to personal trainer Rob Smyth of Let’s Train, “it’s a great way to track your macronutrients - protein, carbs and fats. You can scan a food’s bar code, and it will bring up the macronutrients.”
2. Fitness Blender
Created by a husband and wife team to make fitness accessible, this free app from the popular Fitness Blender website offers access to over 400 workout videos and thousands of healthy recipes, as well as motivational stories and support from other users.
3. Map My Run
This free app with paid upgrades uses GPS to track your pace, location, distance, elevation and calories while you run.
“For serious athletes, Map My Run is good for tracking mileage. You can see how much you’re doing and how long it’s taking you,” Hogan says. “The only downside is you have to carry your phone with you.”
Popular in the cycling world but also useful for runners, Strava is a free app that uses GPS to track cycles and allows cyclists to compete against each other virtually to become ‘king of the mountain’.
“Strava is a really good one. It’s massive in the cycling and endurance world in Ireland,” says Patrick Mackeogh, director of Yourfitness Personal Training and Underground Fitness Dublin.
5. Interval Timer
This free app keeps time during workouts and is particularly useful in high intensity interval training (HIIT), which alternates between short bursts of intense exercise and recovery periods.
Hogan uses it for his own tabata training, which is a form of HIIT.
“I find that app very good because it makes the intervals easier to keep track of. You’re not counting reps, you’re focusing on training, and the timer will take care of the rest.”
Myzone is a free heart rate analysis app. Users fill out a health history form, and the app will generate your maximum heart rate and tell you what percentage you are reaching during workouts.
“It’s a great way to see how hard you’re actually working. Heart rate is absolutely number one when you want to be burning fat,” Smyth says.
7. iHealth My Vitals
iHealth My Vitals is an app that communicates with the iHealth Bluetooth scale. It transmits information like body weight and body fat percentage to your smartphone.
Hogan recommends it for his clients because “it keeps people on track if they see they’ve put on weight”.
8. Fat Caliper
This free app calculates body fat percentage, but users need a separate caliper or tape measure to get accurate measurements. You pinch four sites on your body using the caliper, then input the measurements.
Smyth says the app is useful for knowing whether weight lost is muscle or fat.
9. Yoga Studio
This paid app (€3.99) has 65 yoga and meditation classes suitable for beginners to experienced yogis. Users can download videos so they can practice while offline.
This free app gives users a financial incentive to stick to their fitness goals. When users reach their weekly target, the app pays them small amounts of cash, taken from users who did not do as well.
If you do not meet your goal, the app will take money from the credit card supplied during sign-up.