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Complied from “Best of” lists published by the world’s most trusted sources, and with our own recommended brands peppered in - this Top10 list aims to help consumers make smarter decisions.

How to Choose a Fitness App

A guide for selecting just the right app to help you put your body into perfect shape

Fitness—it’s on everyone’s minds these days. While there has never been a generation that is more aware of the importance of staying fit and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there has also never been a generation that is more stressed, works more hours, and is more exposed to sugary and processed foods.

In short, staying fit is easier said than done.

Enter fitness apps, these magical little programs designed to help us with exactly this! Male, female, young, old, in-between—millions of people around the world are using fitness apps as the boost they need in order to either get fit or stay fit.

Fitness apps are meant to keep you on track—whether your goal is to lose weight, maintain a healthy lifestyle, or ensure an active lifestyle. These apps provide tracking and motivation, a combination that users report has been just the thing they need to help them with their fitness goals.

Choosing A Fitness App

Because fitness is important to everyone, there are many, many apps out there. How can you decide which app is best for you? Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help you make the best choice.

What do I want out of life?

What’s my fitness level?

What kind of exercise do I like?

What features are important to me?

Is cost an issue?

When you answer these questions with honesty and self-awareness, choosing the right fitness app for you will suddenly seem a lot easier. Read on to see how the questions above can help you narrow down your choices.

What do I want out of life?

This is the first question you need to ask yourself, because only through identifying your goals can you decide how it’s best to achieve them. The question is not, what do I want out of a fitness app, but what do I want out of life?

Being healthy is a very general goal—so narrow it down.

If you want to lose weight, choose a fitness app that is geared toward that, such as Lose It!, 7 Minute Workout, and MyFitnessPal.

If you’ve already lost weight and want to maintain it, choose a fitness app that encourages regular exercise, offers tracking, and gives loads of motivation. Strava and Runkeeper do a good job of this.

Or, perhaps your goal is simply to exercise, because you know that the Department of Health and Human Services recommends between 75-150 minutes of aerobic activity a week for healthy adults. But between work, family, social life, and sleep, it’s hard to find the time to squeeze in exercise, and you think a fitness app will provide the motivation you need. You’re right!

Now that you know this is your goal, you don’t need to look into fitness apps geared toward serious athletes—like Nike+ Training Club— or those that will help you lose weight. You can choose an app that will encourage you to maintain a simple exercise regimen, for example, Zombie, Run! turns exercise into a game, and loads of others offer motivation and inspiration.

On the other hand, if your goal is more than just exercise for the sake of health—if you want to become a bodybuilder, marathon runner, or professional athlete—you will want to choose an app that can help you achieve that goal.

Remember, the question is, what do I want out of life?

What’s my fitness level?

Are you just starting out on your fitness journey, or are you a seasoned athlete, a yoga master, a triathlon competitor? Or are you just someone who exercises regularly but not excessively?

When you combine your fitness goals with your current fitness level, you can narrow down your choice of apps. C25K (Couch to 5k) is an app for beginners who need some help transforming from themselves from couch potatoes into 5k-runners. Clearly, this is a great app for people who are just starting out. Just as clearly, this app would be useless for someone who is already running marathons.

What kinds of exercise do I like?

Are you a born-and-bred runner? Then forget the other apps that offer exercise programs that you don’t need—focus on the running. Runtastic, Fitbit, and Runkeeper are all great for running, while Yonder and MapMyFitness, are particularly geared toward those who enjoy outdoor running.

If walking is more your speed, Charity Miles tracks walking and running, and lets you donate to charity at the same time.

Do you want to work on strength building? There’s an app for that. StrongLifts 5x5 is an app that specializes in strength and muscle building.

For people who can only exercise if there is some fun injected into it, no problem—Zombies, Run! and Fitocracy are fitness apps couched in super-fun and interactive games, so you can exercise and have a blast at the same time.

And if you’re like most people, who want a combination of everything—aerobic activity, strength building, balance exercises, motivation, and more, fitness apps like Strava, FitStar, Sworkit, and EndoMondo all fit the bill—no pun intended.

What features are important to me?

We’ll be frank here—many fitness apps offer similar features. Tracking, personalized workouts, syncing with your music device, and setting and managing goals are features that come on any top-rated fitness app. Yes, there are some that offer social sharing, competing, heart rate monitoring, and live feedback, while others don’t, but unless these features are really important to you, they won’t make a big difference in the app you choose.

What it comes down to is which app you feel most comfortable using. Strava, Runkeeper, Nike+ Training Club, Fitbit, and others are detailed apps that some users might enjoy and others might find overwhelming. Simpler apps such as Zombies, Run!, 7 Minute Workout, and MapMyFitness are easier to digest, especially for beginners.

And since we’re talking about how comfortable you feel with an app, we’ll also mention that in some cases, you can love an app but it just won’t work properly on your phone. While virtually all fitness apps are available on both iOS and Android, you know how technology is—sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Make sure to read reviews about app and phone compatibility before plunking down any cash.

Which brings us to our next question.

Is cost an issue?

There are 2 categories when it comes to the cost of fitness apps:

  • Those that are free

  • Those that offer some free features but charge for premium features

Most apps fall into the second category, which is great—it means you can try out some of the features, see if you feel comfortable with the interface, and then decide if you want to upgrade. The average cost is about $7 bucks a month (some are more, some are less). Many of these apps offer yearly plans that end up being cheaper in the long-run, but we caution not to purchase the yearly plan until you are sure that you love the app.

Apps that are completely free, well, what’s the question? You can try one out, and if it doesn’t work, delete it. If it does work, great! Just remember your original question, what are your fitness goals? Even though Zombies, Run! is free, if it doesn’t jive with your goal, why waste your time?

Staying Fit: A Lifetime Achievement

Staying fit is quite possibly one of the hardest goals in life, because it’s something you can never stop doing. It’s not like you can reach a pinnacle and say, okay, I’m done. Staying fit requires constant maintenance, and let’s say it—hard work.

Fortunately, we don’t have to go at this hard work all alone. The right fitness app can be the pillar of support you need to help you maintain your fitness goals.

How we created this
list
Complied from “Best of” lists published by the world’s most trusted sources, and with our own recommended brands peppered in - this Top10 list aims to help consumers make smarter decisions.