A good exercise plan can help you lose weight — along with a healthy diet. But a good exercise plan also requires motivation, inspiration and a healthy dose of tracking. Some people hire a personal trainer to help, but not everyone has the time or budget for that.
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A quick look in Apple’s or Android’s app store reveals a world of fitness possibilities on your smartphone. However, some apps are more helpful than others. As a starting point, check out these five free apps.
For fitness novices: DailyBurn (iPhone)
This app is great for beginners who need the “know-how” of exercise activity to achieve weight loss goals. It provides wellness and exercise articles, tracks workout activities and weight, and helps you create weight-loss goals. If you get into it and find you need more, paid add-ons are available, including a food tracker that scans barcodes, an in-app link to a fitness consultant, additional workouts and more-powerful tracking tools.
Map your ride or run: Endomondo (Android, iPhone, Blackberry)
This app uses GPS to track your bike routes, record your runs or map out any similar outdoor activities. A Google Maps view shows you everything from workout history to lap times. The app also has a social component, meaning you can set up competitions with your friends or integrate motivational pep talks from them. A $3.99 upgrade is available to integrate Facebook and Twitter and pull in data from heart-rate sensors and pedometers.
Pick your routine: GymGoal (iPhone)
Many people find it hard to create a balanced workout routine. That’s the main feature of this app. It helps you choose a routine to tighten and tone your entire body. Perhaps more important, it automatically tweaks sets and reps to match your ability level, so you shouldn’t be scared off if you are a beginner. It teaches you exercises and enhances your workout by monitoring your pace. A paid version is available, but the dumbbell-only version is free to try.
For gym rats: JEFIT (iPhone, Android)
This app creates super-set workouts for those whose fitness habits are a bit more advanced. You use an anatomical map and pick from hundreds of exercises to work on specific parts of your body. This app is best-suited for gym rats who want detailed tracking of their exercise and training routines. It includes the option to log in and share photos so you can see your progress in toning and shaping your body.
Personal trainer for women: Nike Training Club (iPhone, Android)
Designed specifically for women, this app provides instructor-led fitness routines without the cost of hiring your own trainer. It offers access to loads of workouts from a variety of professionals, such as pro-athletes, Nike’s staff, celebrity trainers and others. This is an effective app for women looking for personal training assistance without the associated cost.
Regardless of the app you choose, be sure to ask your doctor for recommendations on activities that are appropriate for your current fitness level — and where you want to be in the future.