Apps to Encourage Health and Fitness

By Tracey Dowdy

Commuting to work last Friday, I listened to an interview with a personal trainer lamenting all the newbies in the gym come January 2nd. Apparently they are all there to kick start their New Year resolutions to lose weight and get fit but instead they mostly get in the way of the “real clients.”

Not sure she had a job come Monday morning, nor do I think that’s the attitude of the majority of personal trainers, but it reminded me of all the fantastic apps that are available to help us with our health and fitness goals without having to commit to a gym membership. Accessible anytime, anywhere, it’s like having your own personal trainer – minus the judging.

Food Journaling

A big part of meeting those health and fitness goals is making the choice to eat well. It’s not just a matter of what you eat, but when and how often. Food journaling can help you manage meals and snacks and use food as fuel instead of just taking on those extra calories.

Noom Coach is a weight loss app designed to encourage life-long healthy eating habits. Instead of simply counting calories, Noom Coach offers weight loss tips, a pedometer, a color coded calorie counter (red, yellow and green, like a stop light), recipes and nutritional information to help you make wise choices. The food database includes popular restaurants to make eating out less stressful, and there’s community support through user forums. (Free – iOS, Android)

Lose It! is one of the most successful comprehensive weight loss apps to date. When you download the app, Lose It! asks for your basic information like gender, height, current weight and weight loss goal. From there, the app creates a custom plan for you. Record your food intake and activity and Lose It tracks your progress. Find recipes, search the database for exercise and nutrition information, and even use the barcode scanner to determine whether that granola is really worth it. (Free – iOS, Android, Kindle)

Nutrition Menu is available offline so you can search its database of over 100,000 foods and 149 exercises no matter where you are. Track exercise, water intake, weight loss and, if you’re counting calories or carbs, use the “Food Score” or simply record your meals and snacks in the journal. With so many valuable resources, no wonder Nutrition Menu is recommended by Fitness and Women’s Health magazines. ($1.99 – iOS, Android)

Exercise Apps

Obviously diet alone isn’t enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If your wellness goals include a little exercise, these apps are a great place to start.

Couch to 5k promises if you’ll commit 30 minutes, 3 times a week for 9 weeks, you’ll be 5k ready. You can choose from four coaches and import your own playlist to keep you motivated. Couch to 5K tracks your progress and includes many other features like counting time on the treadmill to eliminate the “it’s too cold/hot/rainy/sunny” excuse on days you don’t feel like exercising. Because each day builds on the last workout, new runners are less likely to injure themselves. ($1.99 – iOS, Android)

Pocket Yoga is another app that functions offline so you can complete your workout even without an internet connection. Choose from 27 different workouts divided by level of difficulty and duration, so whether you’re a beginner or more advanced you can find a workout that meets your needs. Pocket Yoga maintains a log of all your practices to keep track of progress. ($2.99 – iOS, Android, Windows)

30 Day Fitness Challenges offers 20 different challenges focused on arms, legs, core and strength. Each challenge lasts between 1-5 minutes, which can feel like a very long time if you’re doing planks or burpees! With 30 Day Fitness Challenges you can access tutorials, learn different exercise techniques through videos, track your progress, and get regular reminders when it’s time to work out. ($2.99 – iOS, $1.99 – Android)

If you have a gym membership and simply want help with overall health and wellness, apps like MyFitnessPal, MyDietCoach, and MyNetDiary, can help you stay on track and maintain those healthy lifestyle choices. So whether you were naughty or nice over the holidays, getting back on track and reaching those fitness and wellness goals is well within your reach!

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

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