We’re in the century where almost everything can be done with your smartphone – so why not use it to keep in the pink of health? Let’s face it – we do need all the help we can get in that area.
I know there are millions of apps out there so I’ve helped you to cut through the fluff and pick out the best free health and fitness apps, for various categories. I’ve found them to be really helpful and I hope they’ll help you too. Plus, they’re free!
1. CALORIE TRACKING – MYFITNESSPAL (AVAILABLE IN ITUNES STORE AND GOOGLE PLAY MARKET)
Seriously, this app has one of the largest and most comprehensive food database out there. I’ve logged things from black carrot cake, to a square of Lindt dark chocolate, to Nescafe Ipoh White Coffee. The only setback I’ve experienced is getting the calorie count for salads – most times you have to key in the ingredients individually (eg. “Broccoli – one cup”, followed by “Avocado – half”, “Cherry Tomatoes – half cup”, etc). You can even log exercises you’ve done, which gives you a rough calculation of how many calories you’ve burnt. The app tracks your progress and allows you to add friends so you can motivate each other.
2. CIRCUIT TRAINING APP – SWORKIT (AVAILABLE IN ITUNES STORE AND GOOGLE PLAY MARKET)
I love this app so much because it gives me a hard and varied work out anywhere and anytime – no equipment necessary. The app was designed and created by an ex-officer in the US Army and lets you choose between “Strength and Cardio”, “Yoga and Stretching” and “Custom Workouts”, where you can create your own circuit. Each category is then further broken down into many types like “full body”, “upper body”, “cardio – light warm up”, “head to toe warm-up stretch” and even exercises like “Office Chair Refresher”, “Golfer Workout” and “Pregnancy – full body”.
The free version makes you do 30 seconds of a movement shown on the screen (you can clarify the movement by tapping on the exercise and watching a short video), with a break after a few exercises. Work outs range from five to 60 minutes. The paid version will allow you to customise activity and rest duration.
3. INTERVAL TRAINING TIMER – IMPETUS INTERVAL TIMER (ONLY AVAILABLE IN GOOGLE PLAY MARKET)
Whether you’re a basic user or someone who wants to customise the intervals for a detailed workout, this app can do it all. Pick from a list of preset timings for suggested workouts, or set your own activity and rest durations. What I also love is how you can save or copy the different interval settings for easy reuse or creating the next time.
The beeps are loud and distinct – you’ll definitely be able to hear it over your music – and you can also programme it to countdown the last three seconds before the rest or activity set. The app runs in the background so it doesn’t matter if you’re fiddling with your playlist – the timing won’t pause. The simple, minimalist interface is a nice bonus too!
4. RUNNING – RUNKEEPER (AVAILABLE IN ITUNES STORE AND GOOGLE PLAY MARKET)
Runkeeper is one of the most popular running apps out there. Besides the myriad functions available – tracking your distance, speed, calories burnt accurately; get work out plans and coaching to prepare for marathons; sharing your progress with your friends, and more – its popularity means many external companies have chosen to link up with it. This, I feel, is what makes it a winner.
There are other apps that work as well as Runkeeper does, for tracking your runs. But Runkeeper can be synced with apps like MyFitnessPal, Fitocracy, Zombies Run; GPS heart-rate monitor watches; pedometers and activity tracking bands like Jawbone Up. So all you need is one running app to accompany your other forms of fitness tracking – so convenient.
5. PERSONAL TRAINING APP – BODBOT (AVAILABLE IN ITUNES STORE AND GOOGLE PLAY MARKET)
A personal trainer and nutritionist in one – you’ll get a tailored exercise and eating plan with this app. You sign up for an account and then first set a couple of things, like your fitness goal, whether you prefer working out in the gym or at home, how hard you want to exercise and the schedule. You will then see the exercises planned for you, on the days you’ve indicated you can work out. You check off the exercises on the days as you go.
The free version unfortunately only comes with the exercise advice – but I think that’s already pretty awesome, considering it’s a free app. You can access the nutritional information with a $10 monthly subscription – a steal if you really need help with your diet. It helps to track your macro-nutrients (think vitamins and minerals) on top of your carbohydrate, protein and fat intake – a huge step up from any other calorie tracker out there.
6. YOGA – DAILY YOGA (AVAILABLE IN ITUNES STORE AND GOOGLE PLAY MARKET
Whether you’re looking to relax, lose weight, tone up a certain part of your body or do some sun salutations, you’ll find a suitable practice in this app. The initial menu is actually empty – you fill it up with whatever programme you want to try and there is enough variety with the free ones. My only gripe is that you are redirected to the app store to download the programme, which can be a tad annoying if you are downloading a few at a go.
Nonetheless, you only need to do this once. During a session, soothing music is played and instructions are read out to you while an instructor does the poses real-time in a video. While the app says it is suitable for beginners, and does provide resources to educate one, I find that a complete newbie should attend several yoga classes in person first, to learn about the right postures. There’s nothing like having a teacher correct your posture in person – this is so you don’t hurt yourself attempting something from the app, at home. A nice little bonus is a list of 6 relaxing songs you can play during the session.
7. NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION – FOODUCATE (FREE ON ITUNES STORE AND GOOGLE PLAY MARKET)
This app is currently geared more for the American food product market, but it’s still really useful for us Singaporeans since we do get a lot of US food items in our supermarkets. Fooducate does help you track your food intake and exercise, but what I like about this app is how it highlights to you, the pros and cons of a particular item or dish (eg. It is high in vitamin C, or protein, low in fibre, etc).
Especially when they contain hidden nasties like sugar, high fructose corn syrup and trans fat. You can personalise your app so it picks out additional things you want to be notified about. Can’t take gluten? Put that into the app and you’ll find out if a product has gluten, when you look it up. I think this is most handy for cutting through brands’ marketing tricks – especially those that claim to be selling you a healthy product, when it’s really not.
About the writer:
Ruby Tan used to write for Her World, and is now a freelance writer with a dream to travel the world. She believes that the some of best things in life don’t have to be bought. If you want to make a friend, share travel tips and advice, or even to discuss deeply about life, write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org