iPhone

Five effective mobile fitness apps

If you need a little help getting in shape or sticking to a fitness regime, smartphone apps offer a fun, handy, and efficient way to stay on track.

A smartphone is the perfect diet and exercise aid. You always have it with you, so you can quickly enter data without having to carry around a food diary or relying on your memory at the end of the day. Dozens of health-related smartphone apps are available, but here are a few standouts that our editors and writers have found especially useful.

1: MyFitnessPal

The MyFitnessPal app is great. You set it up with your age, height, weight, normal activity level, and your goal weight (or the weight you want to maintain), and it calculates your base calorie requirements. Then you enter the food you eat each day, along with cardiovascular and strength building exercises you perform, and the app provides you with a running total of your net calorie intake and how many you have left (or have gone over).

The app also gives you a running breakdown of fat, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, carbs, fiber, sugars, protein, and various vitamins. This makes it easy to adjust your eating to ensure that you're getting a balanced diet, not just a low-cal one.

You can download MyFitnessPal for Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry. It's free, but it does contain advertising. You can also enter information using your desktop or laptop computer via the MyFitnessPal Web site. Your information will be synchronized between the Web site, your phone, and other devices (such as an Android tablet).

2: RunKeeper

RunKeeper is another handy little app -- and it's not just for runners. You can select from a number of activity types: running, cycling, walking, swimming, hiking, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, elliptical, and several more.

RunKeeper uses the GPS in your phone to track your time, distance, speed, and your rate of climb to more accurately calculate the calories burned. It also gives you a nice map of your route with mile markers, so that you can see where you've been. If you want, you can share your route with other members of your "street team" -- other RunKeeper users you added or that the service picked up from your Facebook friends list or email contacts list. You can also view a list of nearby RunKeeper users (based on your GPS information).

RunKeeper lets you configure who can see which parts of your information; for example, you might want to share your activity summary with everybody but allow only members of your street team to see your route map. You can also send fitness alerts (like when you set a new personal record) to your email address or social network.

RunKeeper has apps for Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone 7. The basic functionality is free, though it does require registration. There's also an Elite subscription that costs $4.99/month or $19.99/year. It lets you compose advanced reports and broadcast activities and races live.

3: Meal Snap

For those who don't want to be bothered with entering the names of their foods into a database, Meal Snap makes it easy to get a rough estimate of your calorie count by simply taking a photo of your meal with your smartphone's camera. Meal Snap uses the photo to match to its database (which contains about half a million food items) and then sends you a range of calories for the food item you photographed. It also provides other nutritional information, such as proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

This is not nearly as precise or as accurate as the calorie count you get from the MyFitnessPal database, since the latter is based on measured portion sizes. However, it's helpful for giving you a rough idea of your calorie count. MealSnap is available only for the iPhone, and it's $2.99.

4: Nutrition Menu

Nutrition Menu is an iPhone app that serves as a mobile compendium of nutritional data. It has calorie information on common foods (more than 92,000 food items) and meals served in most major U.S. restaurants (41,000 restaurant menu items). It also has calorie-burning information for many types of exercises.

Nutrition Menu allows you to track your daily weigh-ins and provides a Food Score calculator. Its journal features show your progress via daily summaries, and you can write notes and import the information into a spreadsheet.

5: healthycloud

healthycloud tracks it all -- nutrition/calorie intake, blood pressure, weight and body metrics, blood sugar, water intake, cholesterol results, blood lab results, body temperature, and more. If you don't want to track all this information, you can choose which items to track.

Keep your iPhone handy, and as you snack throughout the day or grab lunch, track your intake. healthycloud is available for iPhone and iPad and costs $3.99.

Sources

9 comments
Raoulx
Raoulx

Hi, I'm new in this website ! I have seen a funny fitness app: Heart Beat Rate (www.heartbeaterate.com). I don't understand how it works? Someone could explain me? This app is interesting because Health advice and regular monitoring and follow-up are proposed. It is user friendly and magic. See you soon Marie

morta8
morta8

I know it's newer than the article, but you should mention idoo. The app's uniqueness is due to an algorithm that measures your performance as you work out via the sensors in your smartphone. You should check it at http://idooclub.com

MrFreePress
MrFreePress

Jefit, originally for Android, is now available for the iPhone/iPad. I tested the Jefit free version on December 31st, 2010. Within 24 hours I bought the Pro version. I've hit the gym 3 days a week, every week, since then. When I've never managed more than 3 months in a row my entire life...I'm 44. http://Jefit.com The ease of use, planned work out routines, and thousands of exercises available in its database has allowed me to track my development day by day, exercise by exercise. The timer between exercises and routines forces me to work as hard today as I did 2 days ago, or last week....Consistency is the key to good health and Jefit provides me consistency. I've never bench pressed over 200 #s in my life...when I did, it was for a single rep about 15 years ago. Last January my bench was 160#. 6 months later I peaked at 260#. I owed my complete development to the consistency of Jefit Pro to keep me on track and track my weekly 1RM... Even on a bad day, I didn't have to improve, but the history allowed me to simply do as much as I did the previous week...Paper or the other paid apps that I've tried never never never ever got me there...

martian
martian

I like Runkeeper, which tracks my speedwalking on my way to work and plays whatever playlist I set. However, while the (free) app is fine, I find that the GPS is the stumbling block on my iPhone 3GS. I've had occurrences of it telling me I had gone a couple of Kms within a couple of blocks or less!

tim.stephens
tim.stephens

Seriously, these things are part of the problem. People still on their bums twiddling their thumbs for exercise. Get out and about, and BTW DON'T take the little toy with you!

niallyh
niallyh

Similar to Runkeeper but the pro version has a one-off charge of about $5, and will let you use a bluetooth heart rate monitor and has a heart rate only option which doesn't set off the gps - something I've had trouble finding in other apps

lightingbird
lightingbird

Jefit is a great workout app. It should be on this list.

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