Every year I listen to family, friends, neighbors and coworkers discuss their New Year’s resolutions and without a doubt, a couple mention health and fitness as an area that needs improvement throughout the upcoming year. Has anyone actually made a goal and continued to push through until that goal was achieved? Well, for all those out there who decided the goal was to “workout more,” “lose 10 pounds,” “eat healthier or ” “run 10 miles a week,” thankfully, there are countless apps across all platforms that help us track calories burned, miles covered and nutrition all while mapping your route, managing your music and staying socially active! Who can say “no” to a little run in the park with countless activities literally at your fingertips?
The other day I went for a run in the beautiful Golden Gate Park. I had no idea how far I ran so out of curiosity, I came home to “Google map” my distance on my PC. While this practice works, it’s clearly not the most efficient, as I already had my iPhone on me for music and maps (don’t want to end up in the Tenderloin!). My good friend introduced me to the MapMyRun app, available on BlackBerry, Android and the iPhone. Positioned as the No. 1 running app, MapMyRun lets users track their workouts and nutrition by mapping the route with distance and elevation, logging calories consumed and burned and following training plans from TRX to boxing and cycling. If your New Year’s resolution was to complete a marathon, MapMyRun provides a training program of weekly tips, advice and template schedules, including distance and time, to develop your speed and strength in advance of the big day. After your workout, the app allows you to immediately post your stats on Facebook to show off your fitness level or compare how you did against your friends!
RunKeeper is another app that lets users “turn their phone into a personal trainer in their pocket.” Track distance by activity, play music and share photos all on your iOS or Android device. With the latest 3.0 update, one of the unique features of RunKeeper is the goal tracker. You can set a goal for a certain distance or for a total weight loss. It keeps track of your progress and personal records as well as listening to your distance traveled, average time, pace and calories burned. In addition, the RunKeeper app allows users to take photos along the way and of course, share with friends on Facebook and Twitter.
For all you Apple haters out there, check out what made it to the top of LifeHacker’s Top Five Mobile Fitness Apps list. Available only for Android smartphones, CardioTrainer is an app designated for cardio lovers and fitness gurus who love the outdoors. CardioTrainer shows its difference with a pedometer-guided GPS that also records your path, pace and calories. The voice output on this app provides audio notifications for time, distance, calories burned and intervals allowing you to play music at the same time without interruption. Is your goal a triathlon by the end of the year? Don’t worry, CardioTrainer even calculates calories burned, distance, total exercise time and body weight for swimmers. (Of course, users enter data manually after a workout to save your phone from drowning.)
With gym membership prices skyrocketing and New Year’s resolution goals dwindling, free fitness mobile apps can literally save, or at least change, lives. At the end of this year, wouldn’t you feel so accomplished to say you were one who actually achieved your resolutions? We bring our smartphones to work, to class, to dinner, to shows, to bed, so why not bring it on a picturesque hike at Lands End for not only music and breathtaking photoshoots, but to set, track and achieve those goals you set at the beginning of the year in order to breathe easier and live a happier, healthier life.
A little bit about me: With a sociology background from UC Santa Cruz, I wonder why our society can’t function socially without mobile Internet. Then I turn to my iPhone for a play-by-play of the Giants game. A Bay Area native but an avid traveler, I enjoy the outdoors in every season from hiking and snowboarding, to swimming and soccer. Hate it if you want, but I love country music.