If you're looking for a better way to log your workouts, try your phone. New research published in JAMA suggests that most smartphone apps are just as reliable and accurate for tracking fitness as other wearable devices, like pedometers and accelerometers. They're also cheaper. A good accelerometer can set you back anywhere from $25 to $250, but if you already own a smartphone, most mainstream fitness apps don't cost more than a few bucks. Many are even free.
So step up your workout game and track progress reliably with these handy fitness apps.
For the Runner
The Nike+ Running app is designed to help you reach your goals. Focus on speed or distance, and stock up on digital trophies as you hit new milestones. The app comes with GPS and a time tracking capability, as well as a calorie counter. It also has built-in training programs for distances ranging from 5Ks to full marathons. Plus, Nike+ syncs up with your music and gives you the option to program "power songs" that play when you need an extra boost. Want a workout pal? Buddy up with friends on the app to track each other's progress and challenge one another.
For the Yogi
Want a yoga teacher in your living room? Yoga Studio offers 65 yoga (and meditation) classes, complete with nearly 300 different poses. The app allows you to track your progress, mark your favorites, and schedule future workouts so you never miss a class. Not into the sequences offered? Spice things up by building your own. Focus on strength, flexibility, balance, relaxation, or a combination of the styles. And with videos to go with each exercise, you can always look to the "teacher" to check your form and stay on track. Namaste to that!
To buy: $4, itunes.com
For the Cyclist
If your favorite form of fitness involves two wheels, Strava can help you train. Its GPS and timer track your workouts and report elevation gains, overall speed, and calories burned. Riders with a competitive streak can climb the leader boards by setting personal records or overall speed records over stretches of road or bike path that see a lot of traffic. Find your cyclist friends on Strava, and cheer them on by giving out kudos and comments on their own rides. They can do the same for you.
For the Outdoorsy Athlete
Get most of your physical activity outside? Adventurers of all types can train harder with The North Face's Mountain Athletics app. The six-week training programs are based on gender and catered toward six different areas: backcountry skiing, all-mountain skiing, running, alpine climbing, rock climbing, and general fitness. Step-by-step videos demonstrate workouts and proper form. Athletes can work toward improvement in their specific sports to up stamina, technique, and overall performance. Use the app's tracking tools to keep count of the time you spend working out and view summary reports of your progress so far.
To buy: Free, itunes.com
Maybe you're not looking to run a marathon or climb a mountain. You just want to step up your physical activity in an effort to stay healthy. Movement tracker Human may be your best bet. The goal of the Human app is to inspire you to move for at least 30 minutes each day. It automatically tracks walking, running, and biking, while counting time, distance traveled, and calories burned. Though not specifically categorized, Human also keeps track of your other movements—think cleaning the house, heading to the mall, and hitting the dance floor—so you know exactly how much activity you log each day.
To buy: Free, itunes.com