Okay, you’ve taken seriously your New Year’s resolution about exercising and losing some weight, so now you’re feeling pretty good—and some pounds have actually disappeared. But maybe you’ve hit a plateau, and now you want to ramp it up a bit and get into even better condition. Here’s an idea: keep track of your walking and running activity with an app for your smart phone. There are a lot of them to choose from; we’re just going to skim the surface.
In the aerobic exercise world, there seem to be more walkers than runners, and that’s good, because walking is regarded as the ideal exercise to set you on track for your fitness goals. It’s low impact, so it’s easier on your joints than running, and it doesn’t require much equipment to get started—just a comfortable pair of shoes and you’re ready. But utilizing an app for your smart phone to help you keep track of your activity and to keep you motivated can really help you stay with your exercise program. Let’s take a look at some apps for walkers.
If your New Year’s resolutions are taking a while to get into gear, one of these might help. iTreadmill: Pedometer Ultra w/ PocketStep ($1.99—iPhone) records all of your walking information including number of steps, distance, calories burned, time elapsed, speed, and pace. Its interface is easy to navigate, and it was given two-thumbs-up by Weight Watchers and Women’s Health magazine. Walkmeter, also for iPhone ($1.99), is a GPS-enabled fitness tracker that records all the vital details of your fitness program and provides motivation to challenge you to push further. It’s self-contained, meaning that you don’t have to log on to a web site. Since it has GPS, you can create maps of your walks, graph your progress, and share the maps and graphs on your social networks (such as Facebook) with friends. Running Map Trackometer (Free—Android) isn’t just for runners. This app is for athletes or outdoor enthusiasts of all types; you can log your walks, runs, hikes, bike rides, or even rollerblading activities. It uses your smart phone’s GPS tool to record all the route details like distance and elevation, and it also logs time, speed, pace, and calories burned. When you’ve finished your workout, your route automatically appears on the detailed map, which you can share with friends on social media. RunKeeper (Free—iPhone, Android) works as well for walkers as it does for runners. You have the choice of GPS or manual mode. It also can include music playlists, which you can change en route if you want. You can choose to have “coaching” that will guide you through your target pace or even a fitness class. It stores all your workout data on RunKeeper.com, so you don’t lose your workout history when you get a new phone. The app can be used for biking, hiking, skiing, swimming, skating, rowing, elliptical, and more in addition to walking and running.
And the winner in one recent survey is iMapMyWalk. It’s for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry, and it’s free. It also uses the built-in GPS of your mobile device to track your routes and activities. The details recorded are workout duration, distance, pace speed, elevation, calories burned, and route. You can then upload your workout data to the MapMyWalk web site, where you can follow your workout history and ongoing fitness progress.
Some people want to move at a faster pace, so let’s look at some apps for runners. First, there are some really good apps for beginners. Most running apps record time, location, distance, and speed, and there are subtle differences that set them apart. For instance, RunKeeper (mentioned earlier) can measure your heart rate, and it also can run at the same time as Spotify, so you can choose music to complement your run or walk. MapMyRun (Free—iPhone, Android, and Blackberry) provides a live map route and voice commands in addition to distance, pace, and calories burned. It also offers a huge database of routes to enable you to enjoy variety in your runs wherever you are. In addition, MapMyRun enables you to enter your daily food intake, gives you an estimate on how much you should eat based on your activity level, and how much water you need. Easy 5K With Jeff Galloway ($3.99—iPhone) is a complete couch-to-5K race training program in one app. In addition to the standard running app features and a calendar-based training program, it has a beat-sync feature that can adapt the tempo of your favorite songs to your preferred pace. If you want to go from a non-exerciser to a real runner in a specific amount of time while being coached by a former Olympian, this is very good way to do it.
For the really serious runners, here are some of the most-recommended apps. RunKeeper Pro ($9.99—iPhone and Android) is the deluxe version of RunKeeper, and it is probably the best-known running app out there. It is a feature-rich app that enables GPS tracking, distance, speed monitoring, caloric output and activity history (not only running). The pro version provides audio cues, customized interval workouts, and fitness classes. (Intervals are sections in a running workout—broken down into varying distances, from a few yards to a few miles, run at different paces, from sprints to jogs.) It can also interface with popular heart rate monitors. A universal favorite app among serious runners is Endomondo Sports Tracker Pro ($3.99—iPhone, Android, and Blackberry). They say it’s the easiest to get started quickly, very intuitive. The Endomondo Sports Tracker basic app is free; the Pro version has features that allow you to set up your own interval training programs, tell you how much workout you need to burn a certain number of calories, or save a running route with GPS. It also can give you an estimated finish time based on your first mile pace. It can run at the same time as your music app, so you can listen and monitor the running app without turning either off. You can create an account online at the web site, and this app will track any sports activity, from running to cycling to golf.
Another favorite of serious runners among the hundreds (thousands?) of available running apps is Runtastic Pro GPS: Running, Jogging and Fitness Coach ($3.99–$4.99—iPhone, Android, and Blackberry). It has the typical GPS route mapping, distance, pace speed, calories, etc., of most high-end running apps, but with the GPS mode, your family can locate you in case of emergency. It integrates with music apps and offers a myriad of training plans, from beginner to marathoner. You can even program it to speak to you as a coach! I hope it doesn’t yell like some coaches I’ve known.
It’s anyone’s guess as to how many smart phone apps there are for walkers, runners, and other aerobic exercise enthusiasts. The ones mentioned above comprise only a small fraction of what’s available. I didn’t have the space to mention Ghost Race, Get Running, Fitnio, Run Coach, Interval Run, Ultra Timer, Nike+ Running, and another very highly-regarded app called CardioTrainer. And I only looked on the first page of my Google search. The key is to find the app that works best for you.
I have to mention one other running app, simply because it’s so unique. Zombies, Run! ($3.99—iPhone and Android) turns your run into a game—of survival! You run from zombies and try to save yourself by gathering supplies, medicine, and other necessities while avoiding the zombie hoards. I just hope you don’t have to stop to retie a shoelace.