Smart phones have gotten a bad reputation over the past few years due to the tendency of those who use them to fall into patterns of poor posture. However, although “text neck” has certainly become a thing, smart phones (and web programs) can also help in your pursuit of better health and fitness. Here are some apps we like to use to promote a healthy and physically active lifestyle:
1. My Fitness Pal
My Fitness Pal is a free app with an online food tracker journal. You can use this on the web or on your phone. Input foods and exercise and it will automatically calculate calories in/out as well as give you a breakdown of what you are in eating in terms of carbs, proteins, fats, fibre, and various vitamins and minerals. You can set goals for calorie intake and exercise. If you are a visual person, the graphs and tables will definitely help. You can also scan barcodes on food labels for easy input on your phone and import online recipes. My Fitness Pal has a huge database of foods already so this app tends to be simple, easy-to-use and very user friendly. Premium version is available if you want a more detailed overview of your habbits.
2. Nutrition Tips
This a fun, free app. It is filled with random nutrition facts that are just good to know. For example, it can tell you which foods are high in certain nutrients, or what the leanest cuts of a certain meat are. You can swipe through these at your leisure. Recommended for anyone keen to learn more about what they are eating.
3. Fit Bit
Fit Bits have been taking over recently in the health and fitness industry. A number of our staff have purchased them and have been very happy with what it delivers. There is an app to go along with the sweet wristband. It gives you a breakdown of your daily activity and your sleep patterns. It can also log your food intake and water consumption. You will need to purchase a Fit Bit wristband, but this is a nice option for those who want an all-in-one personalized app. You can also upgrade the app to a premium experience for an additional charge.
The Strava app has various options, starting at “free.” It is a favourite of cycling and running enthusiasts because it can track and save your routes, and also allows you to compare your progress with others segment by segment. In other words, you can see how you stack up against other runners or cyclists on a particular stretch of road or a particular section of a route. Strava is also compatible with a wide variety of heart rate monitors and GPS devices including Garmin, TomTom, Polar, Suunto and Timex. This gives users some control over their experience as they can customize the experience to their preferred device.
Runkeeper is a free, GPS based tracking app. You do not need an additional device to use Runkeeper, but you will need to be in an area that is open enough to access GPS capabilities on your phone. Runkeeper uses the GPS to track your overall distance, your route, your pace and overall time of a workout. You can set Runkeeper to “walk” or “run” and save your workouts. The other thing that’s nice about Runkeeper is that it has the option to set an auditory cue for tracking. So, if you don’t want to have to keep looking at your phone during a workout, Runkeeper announce at regular increments (every 5 minutes) what your time is at, your overall distance and your average pace.
6. Nike Training Club
If you’re looking for some new exercise ideas, check out the Nike Training Club app. Nike Training Club offers free guided workout videos ranging from beginner workouts up to seasoned veteran. They also offer four-week training programs for all levels. Timing is also included for workouts, so this can be a great option for those whose schedules are time-restricted. Use the app to find a workout that fits the amount of time you have to optimize your training time.
7. Charity Miles
Charity Miles allows you to run for a good cause! What an excellent idea. If you’re looking for that extra motivation to get your running shoes on and get going, this is it. With each mile you complete, a corporate sponsor will make a donation to a cause of your choice. Each mile may only be worth a few cents, but when many people get on board with Charity Miles, these little bits will add up quickly and really make a difference for somebody!
Of course, there are many more apps out there. Why not try a few out to see if there is one you enjoy using? Tracking or logging your workouts and food can help you to see your progress, especially on those days you’re feeling like maybe you didn’t get as much done as you would have liked to. They can be a really excellent tool to use in conjunction with a great team of healthcare professionals (like your physiotherapist or registered massage therapist!) in achieving your health and fitness goals.