There are now hundreds, if not thousands of apps dedicated to the pursuit of health and fitness. The idea is tempting: instead of paying an expensive personal trainer or nutritionist for advice, you can get it all from an app with the simple tap of your fingertips.
But will a high-tech helper actually get the best out of you? The following pointers will get you up to speed with the type of apps available, along with some tips to ensure the quest for the body of your dreams doesn’t end in disappointment.
Get fit with an app – too good to be true?
As with so many things, using a smartphone to augment your path to fitness invokes a struggle between personal expectations and what is actually possible in everyday life. Of course, an app in itself is no substitute for genuine action, whether that’s targeted training, planning and tracking your diet or a combination of the two.
Nevertheless: if you’re looking for motivation, training and nutrition plans, exercise demos or useful ways to record your progress, there are plenty of fitness apps that will serve you well.
What fitness apps are there?
The classic scenario: after signing up at a gym, little by little your motivation ebbs away so that by the time you get around to cancelling the membership, you’re right back where you started. The solution: workout at home whenever you desire. It’s here that a fitness app can replace a real-life personal trainer in providing motivation, demonstrations of exercises, training plans and a record of your progression.
If you want to improve your health and performance, you might need to adapt your diet and eat more sensibly. Fitness apps can help you count the calories in ingredients and portions, as well as plan out an appropriate meal selection, in order to make the flawed nutrition that undermined your fitness goals a thing of the past.
Outdoor Endurance Sports
Whether it’s running or cycling, smartphone tech has become an indispensable helper for these sports. Be it route-planning and logging, performance data, training schedules or a record of your progress, fitness apps can provide endurance sports athletes with all of this at the touch of a button.
1. Choose an app that’s most in line with your fitness level and objectives.
2. If there is a free version, sample the app first, to get an idea of its advantages and disadvantages.
3. Only pay for a premium app when you have a good sense that it will actually help you.
4. An app must not replace professional medical advice or a medically supervised diet.
5. Even with a good app, do not disregard advice from a trainer, doctor or credentialed literature.
6. If you have any problems, seek the help of an experienced trainer, doctor or physiotherapist.
7. Be aware of the app’s privacy permissions in relation to data protection.
Examples of successful apps
You Are Your Own Gym: one of the most popular apps to train with using your own body weight. Instead of equipment like weights and dumbbells, it utilises everyday items such as water bottles, books, tables and door frames. The exercises (around 500) are categorised by the different muscle groups they target and demonstrated via video. It comes with a selection of ten-week programs, but the user can create their own custom ones as well. The app costs around £4, and if you want to go old school, a book version is also available.
MyFitnessPal: a comprehensive database of meals and food products, that also comes with a range of exercises. The user can add food or meals and save favourites, while a barcode scanner for ready meals is included. The app motivates users by setting targets and provides extensive analysis of your diet through easy to understand graphs and charts.
Outdoor Endurance Sports
RunKeeper: One of the most popular fitness apps with runners and cyclists, it records and evaluates their activity. The app documents distance travelled, the route taken and the speed and time in which it was completed. After logging routes, statistics and other information, the data can be shared with others on social media. A free basic app or a premium version with enhanced features are available.