Apps to make you faster and stronger

Lots of us kicked off the new year pledging to lose weight and get fit, but many people already lost or are starting to find their resolve slipping. Gyms that were overflowing with people in the first week of January are now a bit less crowded. Perhaps people are finding it a bit more difficult to fit the gym into their busy schedules, or they aren’t seeing results quickly enough and are becoming unmotivated. This is not much of a surprise — admit it, perhaps this describes you?

Well, what if I told you there was a way to finally get fit for good, and to have a personal trainer with you all the time? Actually, it’s probably already with you now — in your pocket. Android apps can turn your phone into a fitness motivator, training partner finder, and diet tracker like you’ve never seen before. So c’mon, get off the couch, and come with me on a tour of the best apps yet for getting in shape.

Learn a new routine
If you’re starting from a low fitness level, or don’t know how to draw up a proper training plan, don’t panic — RunDouble Couch to 5k is a great place to start. It helps you work your way up gradually, from short walks to a full 5k run. If you have a gym membership but always find yourself doing the same routine and struggling for new ideas, a personal trainer app may be just the ticket. Apps like Men’s Health Workouts, Spartacus Workout, and You Are Your Own Gym all suggest workout plans for you to follow, and can walk you through various weight-based and cardiovascular exercise routines (including videos in some cases). You’ll be doing more reps in no time! And if you can’t make it to the gym, don’t let that stop you from working out! Wherever Workout gives you routines for wherever you are and however much time you have, such as a series of abdominal exercises you can do from your desk, a hard workout you can do on your own in a hotel room, or stretches you can do in an airplane seat.

Keep track of your progress
Tracking your progress is a great way to stay motivated. If you like to run outside, then apps such as Google’s Fit, My Tracks or RunKeeper can use your phone’s built-in GPS to track your run route on a map and measure the speed and distance covered. And so you don’t have to keep glancing down at your phone while pounding the streets, RunKeeper can also give audio updates of the distance you’ve covered so far and how fast you’re running, to help you keep to time. JEFIT can also help you keep detailed statistics of how much you’re working out, and recommend new workouts based on what you’re doing.

Use a workout device
Android is a very flexible operating system — you can get fitness devices that work with your Android phone to help you improve your workouts. With a Bluetooth heart rate monitor (such as the Polar WearLink+ or Zephyr HxM) you can use an app like CardioTrainer or Endomondo Sports Tracker to make sure your heart rate is in the right range for burning fat or building your endurance. The Garmin Fit app can connect a foot pod to track how far you’re running indoors, or a speed/cadence sensor if you’re riding a bike outside. And you can even get an Android phone designed especially for working out! Sony’s Xperia Active could be your very own pocket-sized workout buddy — it has a sweat-resistant coating, and the touchscreen will work even when your fingers are sweaty. It comes preloaded with fitness apps and in addition can run all the Android apps we’ve mentioned. It’s the perfect keep-fit phone!

Get motivated
Studies have shown that listening to music is a great way to get and stay motivated while working out. It’s easy to use an app like Deezer or Spotify to make a playlist of songs that really get your heart pumping. You can also use TuneIn Radio to listen to your favourite radio stations and Google Listen to listen to podcasts. Working out with a buddy can also make it easier to commit to getting fit. A little healthy competition can be a great spur, so use an app such as Softrace to map your progress and compare it to your friends’ — may the best man or woman win.

Change your lifestyle
If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s helpful to keep track of what you’re eating. There are lots of apps out there that can help you count calories, plan meals and make sure you’re eating the right kind of food for your new fitness regime. Lose It! can help you set a daily calorie budget and stick to it. And if you’ve been meaning to quit smoking, QuitNow! can give you the kick you need — it offers a step-by-step programme for weaning yourself off cigarettes, and the built-in tracker shows how much money you waste on cigarettes that could be better spent on other things.

These are just a few of the ways that Android apps can help you get more fit — I’d love to have a chat with you to discuss these in more detail and showcase some of the best fitness apps available on Android.

It’s time to say goodbye to your love handles!

Credit Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade
Google, Nigeria


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