Fitness apps may help you get in shape.
Credit: Woman exercising photo via Shutterstock
Exercise is a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle for everyone, not just gym rats and people trying to lose weight. But no two people will have the same fitness regimen — so why should they have the same fitness app?
People should strive to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise weekly, along with doing muscle-strengthening activities two days a week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But exactly how people meet that goal may vary. Whether you're a runner or a hiker, a fitness buff or a recently reformed couch potato, there's an app out there to help you stay in shape. [9 Healthy Habits You Can Do in 1 Minute (Or Less)]
For the fitness novice: Human (iOS)
Perhaps the hardest part about getting in shape is finding the motivation to get off the couch in the first place. If you're brand-new to the fitness scene, and want to start with something low-impact, consider Human from Human.co Inc.
The app is extremely simple: It encourages you to get outside for 30 minutes every day, and run, walk or cycle. The free app tracks your progress and can share your accomplishments on the social network of your choice.
While Human may not turn you into an Olympic athlete, it could provide a gentle introduction to a much-needed exercise regimen.
For the great outdoorsman: MapMyHike (iOS/Android)
J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote, "Not all those who wander are lost." If this describes you, MapMyHike might be the right app for your outdoorsy lifestyle.
MapMyHike employs your phone's built-in GPS to track your movements, even when you're traveling outside the stifling confines of civilization. You can map out a route to follow in advance (such as a hiking trail or a marked vertical ascent), or simply set out and, after you return, see where you traveled.
The free app provides information about your speed, pace, elevation and number of calories burned, and even tracks what you eat — perfect for munching some gorp.
For the avid walker: Accupedo (iOS/Android)
If your moderate exercise consists mainly of walking, the free app Accupedo is a great way to gauge your steps.
In addition to being an accurate pedometer, the app can track your progress in terms of steps, distance, minutes, calories or laps (around a standard track). You can track your progress over days, weeks and even years, to learn how you've improved over time.
For the video gamer: Fitocracy (iOS/Android)
If you like playing video games — especially role-playing games — you know that few things are more satisfying than leveling up your skills, becoming stronger and stronger, as you progress through an adventure.
Fitocracy turns your workout into a game, complete with quests and experience points. As you finish your workouts (whether you're running, weightlifting or doing tae kwon do), you'll receive quests tailored to your preferred activities, gain experience points and move up to new levels.
This free app also lets you compare your achievement level to those of your friends. A little healthy competition can be a good thing.
For the gambler: GymPact (iOS/Android)
To keep your commitment to becoming fit, it may help to make it interesting — or at least that's the concept behind the app GymPact, which lets you wage real money against other exercisers.
The concept is both simple and devious: Decide how many days a week you intend to work out, and wager some money that you'll actually fulfill your promise. When you go to the gym, check in on your phone. If you don't meet your goal, GymPact will take your money and give it to someone who actually made good on his or her commitment. (The app itself is free.)
Work out and get paid; stay still and lose out.
For the gadget fan: Fitbit (iOS/Android)
If you think you'd be much better at exercising if only you had an expensive doohickey to monitor your progress, consider Fitbit.
You can select one of three gadgets: the wrist-mounted Flex, the clip-on One or the pocket-friendly Zip. In conjunction with the free smartphone app, these devices can track how many steps you walk, how many calories you burn, how much food you consume and how much sleep you get over the course of a given day.
Over time, you can adjust your habits to maintain a more healthy lifestyle, and your gadget will monitor your progress in real time.
For the courtside warrior: Nike+ Basketball (iOS)
Most fitness apps are aimed at walkers and runners. After all, tracking steps is easy, and tracking other types of physical activity is difficult.
But if you have either a Nike Fuelband or SportWatch, you can leverage your device to improve your basketball skills. The Nike+ Basketball app tracks how fast you run, how high you jump, how long you hang in the air and how quickly your body moves.
You can also track how your skills change over time in games, practices and workouts, and share your stats with friends or rivals. The free app is one of the few basketball fitness apps with real-time tracking.
For the weight conscious: Lose It! (iOS/Android)
Fitness and weight loss are not the same thing, but they often go hand in hand. If your primary reason for getting in shape is to lose weight, it helps to monitor your diet as well as your exercise habits.
Lose It! does that in a simple, nonjudgmental way. You enter into the program your goal weight, how much weight you intend to lose each week and how many calories you plan to consume per day in order to achieve your goal.
Each day, you input what you ate, along with your exercise, and Lose It! calculates how many net calories you've consumed. The free app also lets you monitor your progress over time and compare your stats with friends.
For the stay-at-home primate: Gorilla Workout (iOS/Android)
Gyms are expensive, but exercising doesn't have to be. If you want to get fit, guerilla-style, look no further than Gorilla Workout.
This program can help you build and tone muscles, even if you've never done so much as a sit-up before. The app uses a gamelike progression of workouts that start off simple (10 push-ups), but get pretty brutal as you get fitter (50 knees-to-chest jumps). If you have enough room to jump straight up and do a push-up, you have enough room in your house or yard for Gorilla Workout.
If nothing else, the app demonstrates that the human body is still the best workout tool. Gorilla Workout costs $0.99.
For the apocalypse survivor: Zombies, Run! (iOS/Android)
If you dislike exercising because it cuts into your TV or video game time, Zombies, Run! can help you split the difference. The app plays a soundtrack to your workout, describing a scene that casts you as "Runner 5," a supply collector during the zombie apocalypse.
You decide whether you want to run for 30 or 60 minutes at a time, set a playlist of your favorite music, and set off for the zombie-infested English countryside, where you gather supplies and listen to other characters advance the story. The app costs $3.99.
You'll have to sprint away from zombies and carefully manage your supplies to upgrade the struggling Abel Township between missions. With more than 50 missions and a 5k training program for new runners, regular video games might not cut it after you've tried Zombies, Run!