I went back to the gym today after a few week’s hiatus and it felt so good. I had yet to get my exercise groove back after my operation when I hurt my knee and had to have a few more weeks’ break while it got better. My mojo has returned, and I’m ready to work on my fitness again. Some of my favourite things I use to track my health and fitness (and motivate me) are apps on my iPhone. I love the convenience of having them right there in one place, on a device that goes most places with me. Here are my top five favourite health and fitness apps:
Weight Watchers Australia
It will come as no surprise that the Weight Watchers app has really helped me. I lost 18 kilos in 18 months, with the last eight kilos being blitzed with the help of Weight Watchers. The meetings side of things didn’t appeal to me, so I signed up for the online program. As part of that, you can download the app and use it to track your points, exercise and weight. My favourite feature is the points calculator, which has been incredibly handy when it comes to choosing meals and snacks while grocery shopping or dining out.
The app has made it so much easier to make positive choices. I also like the way I can track my exercise and see what activity I have done during the week. You can see your weight loss on a graph or a table, and look up recipes on the go. It is incredibly easy to use on the iPhone, but I have heard negative reports about the Android app. While it is a little on the expensive side, you are really paying for the program and the support that comes with it. I would love this to be sold as a stand alone app for a small fee so I could have it on my phone as a safe guard once I finish my maintenance period this month.
COST – $30 per month (as part of the Weight Watchers online subscription)
When Spotify launched it’s Australian service last year, music fans everywhere rejoiced. For a small fee each month, you have access to thousands of albums and songs from all over the world. The latest tunes, obscure albums, and the ability to share playlists with friends makes Spotify incredibly popular. The feature I love most is being able to save my favourite playlists to my phone so I can listen to them offline, when I am out of mobile range. For Christmas, we got a car stereo that we can plug the iPhone directly in to and have our music everywhere we go. I love listening to music while I’m working out and I find myself altering my playlist all the time so I get the most out of my workout. Anything with a good beat makes it easier to move – at the moment I love Tinie Tempah and Macklemore. Our kids love dancing and singing, so the house is often full of music. Being able to change artist or album on a whim is fantastic – our household has very varied musical tastes!
COST – $11.99 per month for the unlimited service. Spotify does offer a free service with advertising, but you cannot use this in offline mode.
Andrew Johnson Relaxation
These apps are a relatively new discovery for me, but I have already fallen in love with them. The gentle Scottish-accented voice of Andrew Johnson leads you through guided meditation and relaxation exercises that can be used to help with a number of issues. These issues include stress, anxiety, and sleep problems. Several of the apps with short exercises can be accessed for free, but the full versions can be purchased through iTunes. I have been using a free relaxation version, which is fantastic if you need 20 minutes to centre yourself and de-stress. After trying this app several times I decided to buy the Don’t Panic app, which I have been listening to while going to sleep for the past few nights. It really helps me to relax and slip into a deep sleep. I am a firm believer that exercise helps your mental health as much as it does your physical health, and these apps will work hand in hand with your exercise induced endorphins to keep you balanced, calm and happy.
COST – Free (for a limited number of apps) and $2.99 for a variety of apps targeted at helping specific issues.
This little gem is like a personal trainer in your pocket. It gives you a huge range of exercises, complete with pictures and little videos to make sure you’re using the right technique. I go to a 24 hour gym, and there is not always a staff member around to ask for advice. If I’m unsure about what I’m doing, or feel like trying a new exercise, I can consult Fitness Buddy. You can download the information right to your phone, so it doesn’t matter if you’re not in a mobile coverage area. It will also give you ideas of full workouts, and let you track your exercise sessions on a calendar. This is a recent discovery of mine, but I am looking forward to experimenting with it more in the coming weeks.
COST – Free (you are able to upgrade to a version with further exercises).
My Fitness Pal
My Fitness Pal is similar to the Weight Watchers app, in that you can work out how many calories you should be eating each day, and track your food intake and exercise. It has a comprehensive list of foods so you can track on the go. You can also input new foods into the app using the nutritional labels from food you eat. Although it is an American app, it has more than three million foods pre-entered, so there are many Australian options already. The app is easy to use, and there are links to an online community if you enjoy chatting to other people about health and fitness.
COST – Free
Looking after ourselves can be tricky when we’re busy with family, work, social lives and life in general. Using apps just makes things easier for ourselves – use them to your advantage!
Do you have any health and fitness apps that you love? What else do you use your smart phone for?