Fitness Apps and Why They Work

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Though the American Journal of Preventative Medicine would have us believe otherwise, there are plenty of good and reliable fitness apps on the market today. The journal took their stance after the University of Massachusetts looked at the popular fitness apps and declared them universally as “too narrow” meaning there is no behavioral change, and you’d need many apps for a complete health overhaul. The University of California-Berkeley argues this point, saying that the fitness apps do exactly what they’re designed to do by motivating people to work out more, or eat better, or whatever their particular point is. Fitness professionals echo the same thing, saying that these fitness apps need to be both the right one, and used in the right way.

Heidi Jones, a head coach at Brick New York Gym says, “I love apps and technology that motivate a person to become healthier and fitter, and while all apps are not created equal, there are a few out there that do the trick – ones that have the ability to change with you and your fitness level, and to adapt to certain days when some workouts just don’t apply based on your life, sleep or stress.” The entire point of a fitness app is to make life easier, to help you and be your tool toward better health, not to promise you a complete transformation with just one app. Nothing in this world is a magic wand, and we cannot expect it of a fitness app either. The fitness app is today’s scale and calipers, it’s our notebook for writing calories or what we’ve eaten. They’re made to serve us in an age where time is of the utmost importance, and none of us have enough of it.

Forbes magazine wrote recently about the best fitness apps available in 2015 in terms of execution and results, and have provided the following list, which we’ve selected the best of:

Cody – Heralding it as “The Facebook for fitness” it offers an entire fitness community where people share and complete workouts by following new friends. You can track progress using a timeline and other Cody users can like and comment on your activity. This results in a big boost in overall motivation as well as accountability and can mean the difference between sticking with your exercise program and ending it. Not all of us have the time or money to get to a gym, so we lose out on the support normally offered through a live class, or within a gym setting. This way, through a virtual support system we are able to connect with others doing the same thing. (Available only on Apple iOS system) Cost is free. (view app)

Hot5Fitness – Hot5 Fitness brings high quality workouts that are organized in a step-by-step fashion and brought to you by the top trainers in the industry. It offers an exercise for every single muscle group for any amount of free time whether you only have 5 minutes, or you have up to 45, there’s a routine they can recommend to give you the results you’re looking for. Easy to use with a gorgeous design and very user-friendly, even someone who has trouble with technology will easily grasp how to navigate this app with ease. It doesn’t require a wifi signal so you can use it anywhere at all. (Available only on Apple iOS system) Cost is free for limited use, or $2.99 a month for unlimited access. (view app)

Pact – This app puts your money where your mouth is. If you value your money even more than your time, you can pledge days you plan to workout along with how much you want to pay. You pay when you miss a day, but you GET paid when you complete a workout. Pact features an ability to connect with other tracking apps as well, with a nutritional option also available. Eat healthy or pay up! (Available on either Apple iOS or Android) Cost is free. (view app)

Carrot Fit – Not quite as flashy as some of the others, this app aims more for strict content than glitz and flash. Be warned though, this is a hardcore app aimed at telling you exactly what you need to hear whether you like it or not. The app is developed to track weight loss, and will give you scalding criticism, sarcasm and motivational trash talking to get the pounds off. In order to learn workout tips, you must put in the time and drop a pound first. Taking a humorous stance, Carrot promises that losing weight will “suck so much less”. (Available only on Apple iOS) Cost is $2.99 (view app)

Human – At the other end of the spectrum from Carrot, this app is more casual, and seeks to encourage you to reach your daily 30 minutes of physical activity, any kind. It believes that just moving at all is better than not doing anything. You can run, dance, play tennis, walk, swim, anything you can imagine as long as it gets you up and moving. Human tracks your movements and lets you know once you’ve hit your goal. It operates as a more passive observer so you don’t need to feel as though you must constantly check in to be keeping up with it. (Available only on Apple iOS) Cost is free. (view app)

Moves – One of the best classic tools at our disposal, this pedometer, one of the longest used trackers for exercise reminds you how many steps you’ve taken minute by minute every day. It offers a comprehensive summary including your movements, stairs, and even pedals used. It’s a caloric calculator, and offers a timeline that is easy to read and it offers all of this in simple and easy to use package. It’s another way of helping you track your exercise without being in your face about it. (Available only on Apple iOS) Cost is free. (view app)

LoseIt – Easily the most broad in terms of sheer potential, this app is the ultimate multi-tasker for people who don’t want 5 different apps, and are happy to let just one do a little of everything. Operating like a personal trainer and a nutritionist in your pocket, this app asks you to enter your weight loss goals and other health goals, then tracks your calories, as well as giving you a barcode scanner so you can get more details about what you’re planning to eat. It allows you to pay more attention to your nutritional values than just how many calories it is. Calories are energy, not all energy sources are bad! This app connects to other apps and devices easily. (Available on Apple iOS, Android, Nook and Kindle) Cost is free. (view app)

Noom Weight Loss Coach – Both a pedometer as well as a nutritional guide, it helps you log your meals and your workouts and busily counts your steps through your day. It will send you articles on wellness as well as send along positive words of encouragement to help you stay motivated, and also sends healthy recipes. This allows for easy healthy meal ideas, and keeps you from being bored with your program. All foods in the database have color codes that help you to learn what is healthy versus what is not. All the benefits of a personal trainer, along with an article writer for a health blog, and a pedometer in one place! (Available for Apple iOS and Android) Cost is free. (view app)

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