Now’s the perfect time to jump back on the horse … and into those running shoes.
After all, with warmer weather upon us, exercise tends to be not only easier but also less expensive.
Get started with a free financial assessment.
Get started with a free financial assessment.
That’s right: You can finally nix that pricey gym membership in favor of getting fit in the Great Outdoors.
And thanks to a recent explosion of fitness apps on the market, your catalyst to get off the couch is now as close as your smartphone.
So, in honor of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, we reached out to two fitness-minded tech experts to weigh in on eight new apps that make all kinds of exercise exciting.
An Exercise App for ... Do-Gooders
Would the prospect of rescuing abandoned puppies be enough to inspire you to lace up your kicks? If so, you’ll likely find Charity Miles to be an incredible incentive to get up and go.
Choose a charity of your choice from the extensive list of options—like the ASPCA, Nature Conservancy and Stand Up to Cancer, to name a few. Then, simply launch the app and turn on your GPS before heading out for a jog or walk.
Once you start moving, Charity Miles will track your distance and divert 25 cents per mile to your designated organization, courtesy of corporate sponsors.
Why Our Experts Love It: Free money for a good cause while you get fit—that’s a win-win-win. “I’m a big proponent,” says Ted Vickey, senior consultant for fitness technology at the American Council on Exercise. “There might be people who can’t afford to give $20—but they can afford to walk.”
An Exercise App for ... Social Butterflies
Endomondo Sports Tracker
Sure, there are scores of workout apps that track your progress and save stats.
And while this app does do all of that, what really sets it apart is its pep-talk factor.
Endomondo turns your sweat session into a social affair—by letting you connect with friends and other users via social media about your progress.
It’s all in the interest of helping you stay accountable, scoring supportive notes from the peanut gallery—and humble-bragging about your results.
Why Our Experts Love It: This is an optimal tool for regular exercisers who are looking to take their game to the next level. “It’s about challenging yourself to push a little harder,” explains Jill Duffy, a tech writer and contributing editor at PC Magazine. “That’s what’s really motivating—seeing your improvement plotted out, and letting other people cheer you on.”
If you’ve ever watched “The Walking Dead” and wondered whether you’d survive the apocalypse, this entertaining app will give you a pretty good idea.
An Exercise App for ... Avid Bikers
Unless you’re a pro cyclist (think triathlon-level), biking can be a super-solitary sport.
Enter Strava, which makes every ride through your hood a fight to the finish.
Using GPS tracking, the app records your time and pace as you pedal through a certain segment of your home turf. Then, you can check out the leaderboard of everyone else who’s ridden that same stretch.
Why Our Experts Love It: You experience that motivating rush of competitive racing every time you work out. “It’s really fun because you’re going against other people who bike the exact same legs as you,” Duffy says.
An Exercise App for ... Adrenaline Junkies
If you’ve ever watched an episode of “The Walking Dead” and wondered whether you’d survive the apocalypse, this entertaining app will give you a pretty good idea.
Zombies, Run! places you in the middle of 40 different missions requiring you to stockpile supplies and escape roving members of the undead.
Want to do some interval training? Turn on the feature that will get a zombie chasing after you and watch your legs go.
Why Our Experts Love It: It’s a blast! “If you’re into playing video games, this is a great choice for you,” Duffy says. “The zombie noises that come in at different times really help keep you motivated.”
An Exercise App for ... Speed Strollers
Love the idea of Zombies, Run! but hate to, well, run? The Walk—developed with input from the UK’s Department of Health—uses the same thrilling concept to put more pep in your step.
The setup: You’re given a package that could save the world—but the police and a group of terrorists are after you. To stay alive, you’ll need to elude them.
Back in the real world, you’re walking around town, collecting clues the farther you go—all while the app tracks each step you take to reach your goal of 10,000 steps per day.
Why Our Experts Love It: Not everyone’s a runner or in tiptop shape—and this app gets that. “Fitness levels are variable, and you need to start at the one that’s right for you,” Duffy says. “This is immersive and appropriate for lots of different people.”
An Exercise App for ... Running Newbies
Couch to 5K
The Couch to 5K program—which promises to get even the most sedentary folks up and running a 3.1-mile race—has been a trusted training guide for years.
Now, it’s conveniently available as an app.
Commit to just 20 to 30 minutes three times a week for nine weeks, and you’ll have all the tools you need to go the (5K) distance. The app will put you on a detailed workout plan—complete with audio cues and your choice of a virtual coach—that gets you running progressively farther.
Why Our Experts Love It: This time-tested program has truly worked for runner after runner who swore they’d never make it to the finish line. “I really like it from a personal-training perspective,” Vickey says. “It takes what could be a difficult concept and breaks it down into small steps.”
This app’s technology actually syncs up with your heartbeat—so you’re getting the song selections that are most likely to work best for you.
An Exercise App for ... Music Lovers
Sick of your old pump-up playlists and too busy to come up with a new one?
Created by pro DJs, RockMyRun provides go-to music mixes for every kind of workout. Simply search by genre (from hip-hop to rock and classical), length, type of activity and speed to snag the right songs to get you going.
Research shows that exercising to music can be far more motivating than going without tunes. And this app’s technology actually syncs up with your heartbeat—so you’re getting the song selections that are most likely to work best for you.
Why Our Experts Love It: This brilliant use of tech really boosts your performance. “It’s great how they incorporate heart rates into the intensity of the exercise,” Vickey says. “Want a higher heart rate? It will suggest more upbeat music. If you want to run a ten-minute mile, it knows how to get you there.”
An Exercise App for ... Gym Rats
Looking for new yoga poses, CrossFit moves or ab exercises—but don’t want to shell out for a trainer?
With GAIN, you’ll unearth over 2,000 moves in 10 categories—from basketball to prenatal Pilates.
You can customize your search by fitness level, length of workout and physical goals. Then, using video and audio instruction, a coach will guide you through the workout session.
In other words, it’s like having a personal trainer in your pocket.
Why Our Experts Love It: The complete personalization aspect. “You can say, ‘Here’s what I want to do, here’s the equipment I already have,’ and build your own routine from there,” Duffy says.
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