Did you make a New Year’s resolution and decide to jump on to bandwagon of health nuts? Eating healthier, exercising more, and hoping to lose a few pounds and inches.
Consistency is the most difficult thing with any kind of lifestyle change, and while nothing can beat the social support or motivating personal trainer, sometimes technology can give that extra boost needed to keep us on track.
The number of health and fitness related applications has practically exploded over a past couple of years, and instead of finding an application, the challenge is in finding the (nearly) best application for your personal goals. Based on my own experience as an athlete and personal trainer, you may want to take a look at some of the following apps that are available for an iOS device (iPhone, iPod Touch, and in some cases for iPad), and possibly also for Android platform.
Ease into 5K ($2.99): If you are dreaming of running but have a hard time to run a full lap, this is your app. An 8-week program gets you started with a gentle walk/run training. Each training session is 25-40 minutes long, and – the best part of the app – you can listen your own workout music while following the virtual coach’s instructions. However, you must have some self discipline in order to complete the program. Skipping workouts, or having too many rest days between them is not going to make you a 5k runner.
Also, if you’re significantly overweight, check with your doctor before starting jogging or running. Or repeat the first two weeks for a couple of extra weeks until you are able to follow the given instructions without being completely exhausted.
Nike+ GPS ($1.99): Nike+ GPS uses iPhone’s built-in technology to track your runs. Just get the app, put the phone in your pocket, and hit the road! This running app lets you to record the pace, distance and route – very accurately. I was validating this application on one of my cold weather runs here in Alaska. The high-end Garmin running computer and Nike+ recorded the route and pace at the similar accuracy, and both maps even showed the side of the road I was running on.
An entertaining feature of this app is to have Nike celebrity athletes such as Lance Armstrong cheering for you. Although I wasn’t too excited about Armstrong’s cheering after running in -15F weather, toes and hands freezing cold! Hot tea sounded a lot more cheerful at that point.
Lose It (free): Healthier lifestyle is not all about exercising but also having healthy eating habits. Lose It is a free(!) application for tracking what you put into your mouth, and how many calories you have been burning. Being a free application, it has a very extensive database of foods and ingredients, is easy to use, and …. If you a statistics nerd like me, you’ll love the possibility of exporting your daily nutrition information to an excel file. Everyone loves graphs, right?!
The weight loss is very challenging without tracking what you are eating. A tiny slice of cheesecake may look like nothing but it can easily have 600-800 calories, over 30% of daily calorie intake of an average size woman! Writing down what you eat teaches you to make healthy food choices.
GymGoal Plus (-20% off in January, $3.99): over 280 gym exercises, built-in workout routines, animations for strength workouts…. what else could you hope for a strength training app? GymGoal Plus is one of my favorite apps at the gym. While I know how to do the exercises, I couldn’t live without its tracking functions. No more pens and papers on the gym floor, just the phone, and I can type in the reps and weights on the spot. If strength training is on your agenda, you may want to check this app out.
iTreadmill ($1.99): iTreadmill is one of my newer app findings, thanks to the freezing-cold Alaskan weather that forces me to have dates with treadmill way too often. This is a pedometer app that can be used for both running and walking. My first thought of this app was very, very suspicious, and for a very long time I have kept track of my treadmill runs by taking a picture of the summary at the end of my workout, and then update my workout log afterwards.
This app seems to be rather accurate for walking and jogging on the treadmill but when I was running 6-6.5-minute miles, it wasn’t able to keep up with the distance compared to the treadmill data.
However, it works great for people who want to track the number of steps a day, or engage in light walking/jogging exercise. So while I will play around with iTreadmill, I’m still logging my miles from the treadmill display.