It depends on what benefits or features you are looking for, be it heart rate tracking, weight loss, daily steps, cardio and strength workouts or even blood pressure and sleep monitoring. Even if you are just looking for motivating music to workout with, there’s an app for that too. Here are a few of the popular apps that are out there
Polar Flow app is free with the following Polar products: Loop, Loop 2, A300, M400, M450, V800, Polar Beat and V650. It includes steps, sleep and heart rate training. It works with or without their Bluetooth heart rate monitor. If you are interested in heart rate training this is the gold standard.
This is a free app that you can log in your food, exercise, water intake and weight. Overall, it is a great app to use daily and one of the easiest. The food diary is easy to use and the list of foods includes all major fast food chains, major food brands and you can customize it with your own foods you make at home. The food diary can quickly analyze what you have eaten and break your calories down into carbs, fats and proteins and even macronutrients. The major benefit of this app is that it allows you to set goals and keeps you accountable for what you eat and do throughout the day. MyFitnessPal easily syncs to most devices and commercial grade gym equipment such as Technogym.
Garmin Connect is a free app for your online training tool to store, analyze and share all your fitness activities. Join millions of users who run, bike, swim and hike. Garmin Connect works seamlessly with your Garmin device and supports all your fitness goals.
This is another free app that is particularly popular with runners and cyclists because of its GPS capabilities to track your course and mileage. You can design your own run or bike course, name it and let others use it as well. If you are in to posting and sharing your workouts with the actual map of what you did, this is an app for that. Building a community network to share is a big benefit of this app.
The free Fitbit app is designed to work with Fitbit activity trackers and smart scales. It also includes food tracking and heart rate tracking that is done from the wrist. There are some accuracy problems during high intensity activities.
So, we have all the information, the question is, how useful or beneficial is it? Most of these fitness apps listed, seem to have a common thread that people are looking for. Motivation, ease of use, information, accountability and being a part of a community seem to be what most people are looking for. Of all these I believe the most important is accountability because the information these apps gather over time allows us to see habits we have formed and then change them as needed. Therefore we can track progress and success. When we make progress with weight loss or develop a faster pace in our runs, we know that having the initial information when we first started tracking and then comparing it to where we are now, allows us to see positive changes and figure out what to do next. Earlier I mentioned the mywellness app by Technogym. It helps keep you moving forward. It sets new goals each week automatically depending on what you did last week.
Knowledge is the key when it comes to our personal health and fitness. One size does not fit all and the same goes for fitness apps. Find the one that works for you based on what you need to live a healthy life.
Karen Leatherman is president/owner of Fitness Forum Occupational Testing Services. She started the first hospital-based fitness center in South Carolina where she started cardiac and pulmonary rehab programs. She has over 30 years performing exercise stress testing and has been testing firefighters for over 20 years. In addition, she was on the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), Health and Fitness Certification Committee where she travelled with a team from the U.S. to India and Hong Kong to teach and administer ACSM exams.