If you’re like most Americans, tomorrow night you’ll set a New Year’s resolution. Along with saving more money and losing weight, exercising more is one of the most popular resolutions year after year. Yet studies show that by January 12, most well-intentioned people have already given up on their goals for the new year.
This is a shame considering the innumerable benefits of exercise. Besides keeping off weight and giving us more energy, regular exercise keeps our bodies young, fights depression naturally, and even combats chronic pain. Best of all, it takes less exercise than you think to start reaping these benefits. So why do so few people stick to their resolutions?
A number of factors influence why people fail to stick with resolutions. For many people, their initial enthusiasm diminishes quickly. On New Year’s Eve, we focus on the results of our resolutions rather than the work we’ll have to put in, and without immediate positive feedback, it’s hard to stay excited. Another problem is that goals can seem really hard if we don’t break them down to smaller, achievable steps; it’s daunting to think about losing 30 pounds when we think about all 30 pounds at the same time, whereas thinking of it in increments of 4 pounds each month for a few months is much more manageable. Finally, sometimes people set goals that are unrealistic. If you’ve never gone mountain climbing, then planning to summit Mount Everest by the end of March is way too ambitious, but sometimes it’s difficult to be objective about our goals.
Thankfully, there are lots of fitness apps available today that can help you get up, get moving, and stay dedicated to your exercise resolutions for this year. These fitness apps can help you set realistic goals for yourself, track your progress toward those goals, and provide some immediate feedback (and gratification) along the way to help you stay motivated. Below are three of our favorite fitness apps for becoming a healthier, more active you.
Couch-to-5k – Best Fitness App For Beginners
If you’ve never run before but want to start, there may be no better fitness app to help you than the enormously popular Couch to 5k. The app’s goal is to help beginners work up to running either 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) or 30 minutes. The process is simple: start by walking for 30 minutes with occasional running, and then gradually shift to more running than walking.
Literally, that’s it. That’s the secret.
Simple though it is, it’s worked for thousands of people and is endorsed by authorities like Runner’s World and CalorieLab.
When you start the app, it uses a timer to alert you when to change from walking to running and back to walking. You have the option to pause the timer, and you can control the app using voice commands. Like most apps of this kind, it uses your phone’s GPS to track your distance and speed (although there is a treadmill version), and it will calculate approximate calories burned based on this data.
Other fun features of the app include animated trainers who will send you reminders and encouragement, badges for completing in-app challenges, and an in-app music player to keep you going strong. The app’s official website includes dozens of helpful articles, including a link to Pooch to 5k, a website with advice on how to safely get your dog up and moving with you. You can find the official Couch to 5k fitness app on Google Play or the Apple App Store for a one-time cost of $2.99.
Runkeeper – Best Fitness App For Tech Geeks
Created in 2008, Runkeeper has been around for a while, which partially explains its 50 million users. But its simple interface and depth of features is what has made it a fan favorite of walkers, runners, and cyclists for over a decade. Simply open the app, tap “start running,” and it will use your GPS to track your distance, time spent exercising, and speed, offering live data as you go. When you finish, hit “stop” and you can choose to save your workout. If you save the workout, you’ll be taken to a screen where you can view your average, fastest, and slowest pace, as well as calories burned, highest and lowest elevation climbed, and how that workout session compares to past workout sessions. You can even add notes on how it went. That’s lots of data at your fingertips in an instant, and it can be intensely satisfying to see your progress immediately.
Runkeeper boasts extensive connectivity and dozens of features. You can sync Runkeeper with your Fitbit or smartwatch, or with other health apps like MyFitnessPal, or even with music apps like Spotify. The app offers audio cues based on your pace, distance, or time spent running to help you improve with each workout. You can create customized training plans for goals based on distance, pace, or weight, and Runkeeper will create a map of your route for each workout that you can personalize with pictures from that route.
To stay motivated, users can create running groups with their friends where they share their progress, or they can share their workouts directly to Facebook or Twitter. Runkeeper also offers challenges that users can participate in with runners or cyclists from all over the world, earning badges or prizes for completion.
Runkeeper is free to download, but does offer a premium version called Runkeeper Go that offers prescribed workouts tailored to your goals, insights into your workouts and goal progress, and live tracking that allows you to share your location with family and friends. Available on Google Play or in the Apple App Store, the premium version is $39.99/year or $9.99/month.
Strava – Best Fitness App For Social Runners
To call Strava a fitness app is really under-selling it. Part social network, part analytics dashboard, Strava is a full training management system. Available on Apple and Android for free, the app lets you connect devices like smartwatches, fitness trackers, or smartphones. Using the GPS in your connected device, it records your route, distance, elevation, speed, time, and heart rate (if your device supports this). Strava automatically groups saved workouts by activity type, allowing you to measure your progress over time.
You can keep your workouts private if you prefer, but Strava’s social platform is a big part of its strength. There’s definitely a sense of accountability when you know your friends can see that you’re skipping workouts, but it can also feel great when your friends like the workouts that you share publicly. You can create digital running groups with friends far away using Strava, but it’s also a great way to find real, in-person running groups that can make training that much more fun. A favorite of businesses like Big Dog Running Company, it’s an easy way to link up with people that will keep you motivated and provide insights that help you take your workouts farther.
For those serious about improving their workouts, Strava offers powerful features through Strava Summit, a premium subscription that costs $5/month. This lets users set custom goals or use the fitness app’s tools to create personalized training plans. Additionally, it provides an analysis of each workout, including analysis of specific segments of your workout. And if competition motivates you, you can create a custom leader-board to compete against your friends on the site. Periodically, Strava also hosts running or cycling challenges where participants can earn trophies to display on their profile or rewards from Strava’s advertising partners.
If you’re new to running or cycling, Strava’s personal heatmaps and Beacon feature offer peace of mind. Your heatmap is a map of the routes you usually take and how often you take each one. You can choose who you want to have access to this map in case of emergency. Similarly, Beacon allows you to alert family or friends if you sustain an injury or run into trouble during your workout.
Don’t let your 2020 fitness resolutions fail! With so many great fitness apps available, you’ve never had a better chance to reach those exercise goals! Comment below and tell us which fitness app you’re excited to try, or which fitness apps you already use.
Are you looking to start running, but feel unsure where to start? Stop into Big Dog Fleet Feet and we’ll happily help you get started. With the best shoes and athletic wear, we can help you find the gear you need to go places. We offer training programs to help you get started, as well as weekly races to keep you motivated. Reach out today and learn how we can help you meet your New Year’s resolutions!
Did you know TracSoft makes apps? We create custom software applications that meet the needs that pre-packaged doesn’t. We will work with you to determine what gaps exist in your systems and then program personalized, automated applications that work seamlessly with your existing software. Contact us today and find out how TracSoft can make your workday run smoothly.