Guest Blogger: Julia Peterson
With the right tools, your phone can be your personal trainer
Mobile apps can either be just another distraction, or they can help you measure progress, share motivation with friends, and stay on target with your fitness goals. Here are a few of the top smartphone cardio tools on the market, for both Android and iOS.
Endomondo is a great cardio tracker for people who like working out with friends and competition—especially if you have a hard time coordinating schedules. Like most cardio apps, it tracks your distance traveled, top speed, average speed, longest sustained run, etc. but it really stands out when you get a few friends together to compete on a single route. Your friends can log their best times on your route, and whoever is fastest becomes “Champion” of that route—like being the mayor on Foursquare, only it means something. Endomondo also has features like an audio “coach” that offers encouragement as you approach personal milestones, and a detailed log of all your stats over time, so you can watch as your speed and endurance increase. (Cost: free)
For those who take a statistical, scientific approach to fitness, Noom is a great pick. Like others, it monitors your basic stats, but it really stands out as a measure of progress and performance over time. You can set weight, speed, or endurance goals, and Noom will show you a bar that slowly fills as you approach your chosen goal. It also has some nutrition-tracking functionality, which takes some of the mystery out of weight loss—you tell Noom how many calories you’re eating, and it tracks your cardio workouts to tell you how quickly you should expect to lose the pounds. It also has support for connecting your smartphone to a heart rate meter, so you can get even more detailed stats from each workout. (Cost: free)
While this app isn’t a comprehensive fitness tool like the others, it’s incredibly useful. Just like the finger clip monitors they use at the doctor’s office, this app checks your heart rate by using your phone’s camera to detect tiny, rhythmic color changes in your skin. Check your resting rate for insight into your overall cardio health, or check during a workout to make sure you’re hitting your desired intensity. This can be especially helpful if you have health issues that make it important to keep an eye on your heart rate. The iOS version is fairly cheap, but the Android version is free, making this one a no-brainer for those with T-Mobile cell phone plans. (Cost: free for Android, $0.99 for iPhone)
Most of the options we’ve discussed in this post are for people with the time and motivation for intense cardio training, and who just want to break out of a plateau or try new tools. If you’re inexperienced, pressed for time, or having a hard time building good workout habits, these workout videos are a great way to get started. They only take ten minutes, and they help get your blood moving without being too rough on a beginner. The app is fairly simple—you can select workouts to target trouble spots, or just play a random workout to mix things up. If you’ve already cultivated good fitness habits, this app might be a good option for busy days or as a break from more intense training. (Cost: $0.99)
Julia Peterson is a writer for AndGeeks.com, a popular website that provides up-to-date news, detailed commentary, and unbiased reviews on cell phones and related topics. Julia resides in Galveston, Texas in a cozy little house in the country with her husband, young son, and their Labrador retriever, Darby.