Software

Five Android exercise apps to get you moving in 2016

This is the year you start getting fit. And what better way to manage your efforts than with an app for your Android smartphone? Here are five fitness-centric tools to jump-start your fitness plan.

One of the pitfalls of being in IT is leading a rather sedentary life. You sit around at a keyboard all day, with most of your movement coming from racing to and from the server room. That's not enough. But since you're in love with technology, one of the best ways to get into exercise mode is to have a piece of hardware or software to help you geek out on the idea.

That's where exercise apps come into play. If you're looking for an outstanding Android app to help get you moving, these five (none of which require anything more than your smartphone) are sure to win the toss. So lace up your sneakers and let's sweat.

Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.

1: UP by Jawbone

There are two versions of this app: UP by Jawbone (Figure A) and UP. The latter requires an UP, UP24, or UP MOVE device. The former, however, can work with only your phone. UP by Jawbone will track your activity, sleep, and eating habits. The app includes a built in virtual coach that learns your habits and helps you either improve them or break them (by making better choices).

Figure A

Figure A

UP by Jawbone will track your workouts, give you personalized insights (based on your activity), help you watch your progress toward your moving, sleeping, and eating goals, and present you with easy-to-read logs for workouts, sleep, mood, and food. UP by Jawbone has one of the best interfaces for logging your activity. The app is free, but you do have to sign up for a Jawbone account (also free) to use it.

2: Google Fit

Yet another app to help you track your activity—only this time it's the default fitness app for Android. With Fit (Figure B) you can effortlessly track activity, connect with any Wear device, get instant insights to your activity, set fitness goals, receive personalized recommendations (based on your activity and goals), measure wellness, and more.

Figure B

Figure B

Fit does a great job of aggregating information from other fitness apps (such as Android Wear, Nike+, Runkeeper, Strava, MyFitnessPal, Lifesum, Basis, Sleep as Android, Withings, and Xiaomi Mi band). Google Fit is free and works great with or without a wearable device.

3: Strava

Hardcore cyclists and runners need apply. Strava (Figure C) is not just a personal fitness tracker; it allows you to upload all your data to a service so you can compare your results with others. (What better motivation than a little competition?) Strava offers fitness/training trackers, personal logs, performance comparison, and route discovery. That last bit is essential to any runner or cyclist trying to add a bit of variation to their routine.

Figure C

Figure C

The ability to connect with friends and other Strava members allows you to compare fitness for social training. Strava does not require the use of a connected wearable device and the app is free (although you do have to create an account).

4: 7 Minute Workout

If you're looking for an app to help you get fit quickly, 7 Minute Workout (Figure D) might be the thing for you. With this app you'll get a daily workout routine that includes jumping jacks, wall sits, push-ups, abdominal crunch, step-up onto chair, squats, triceps dip with chair, plank, high knees/running in place, lunge, push-up and rotation, side plank, and more.

Figure D

Figure D

The daily regimen varies between full body workouts, leg workouts, arm workouts, glute workouts, cardio workouts, and abs workouts. This is the ideal app for those trying to build up to something a bit more strenuous, so if you're just now setting resolutions for 2016 to get in shape... this is for you. The app is free and does not require you sign up for anything. You do have to unlock each workout (done as you go).

5: Zombies, Run!

Being a writer of zombie fiction, I felt required to include Zombies, Run! (Figure E), a fun app that turns your run into a game of survival. With this app, you are placed in a disaster setting (complete with zombies) and you are expected to survive. As you run, you enjoy a nightmarish narrative that informs you when to pick up supplies. If you're too slow, the zombies can catch you and you'll lose those supplies.

Figure E

Figure E

The nice thing about this app is that you do not have to look at your device as you run. It will also play music from your device (so you're not only listening to the voice narration or the sounds of the chasing undead). The app is free, but you can purchase new scenarios in-app.

What works for you?

What are you waiting for—2017? Install one of these apps and don't fall behind your goals of getting off your duff and onto your feet.

What apps, tricks, and strategies have gotten you moving toward your fitness goals? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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