Athletic apps for fitness freaks
It's time to burn off that layer of winter insulation - technology can help. Fitness apps for smartphones are personalised and increasingly sophisticated portable exercise programmes.
Described as Facebook for fitness fans, Fitocracy tries to motivate members to exercise by turning it into a social game.
You can discuss your progress (or otherwise) with other members and, if you're feeling up to it, compete against them in challenges.
The app also helps you keep track of your workouts, and has basic instructions for a range of activities, such as benchpressing. Free for iPhone only.
Keep track of all those kilometres with the RunKeeper app - which uses GPS technology to monitor your running/cycling/walking route and speed, and uploads the data to the RunKeeper website. You will need to take your phone with you. If you feel the urge to brag about that 30km run there's also a feature that lets you share your progress on Facebook and Twitter.
Free download to iPhones and Android smartphones.
Similar to RunKeeper, Nike's app maps your runs, and counts your distance, speed and calories burned. If you need moral support you can post to tell your Facebook friends that you're beginning a run, and hear cheers every time someone “likes” or comments on your post. You can also program in a “power song” that you can activate to help you sprint to the end or grind up that hill. Free for the iPhone and Android phones.
Time to transform from couch potato to stringbean? Zen Labs' C25K (Couch to 5km) app aims to ease you back into running through an eight-week programme. The initial workouts have you alternating running and walking and gradually increase in intensity. Audio prompts tell you when to run and walk so you can focus on your surroundings - or just breathing in and out. You can get a free version with adverts or pay $2.59 to be advert-free.
Like a pedometer but this time you don't have to carry around a separate gadget and you can find out loads more info, such as your current and average speed, steps per minute, and an estimate of calories burned. Rated as one of the most accurate pedometer apps around. $2.59 for the iPhone.
The heavyweight of fitness apps, FitnessBuilder by PumpOne has more than 5600 image and videos to help get you moving, and more than 750 workouts over a range of disciplines. There's a swag of tools to track, calculate and graph your progress and an exercise physiologist online who can answer your fitness questions.
You can trial it for free for a month but after that must downgrade to a lighter version or pay $14 a month - not small change but your bulging pecs may thank you.
For iPhone and Android smartphones.
All right, this one is a bit silly, but if nothing else motivates maybe the thought of being hunted down by zombies will. The app tries to be more of a game - getting you to complete certain missions - but the whole point is to high-tail it when you hear the zombies are closing in. $10.99 for iPhone and Android.
Too cool to sweat it out? You can learn or practice yoga with the help of Authentic Yoga with Deepak Chopra and Tara Stiles presented by Chopra and Stiles, his personal yoga instructor. You can watch instructional videos, select poses and routines for specific needs such as strengthening or balance, and create customised routines. $2.60 for iPhone and Android phones.
A word before you chuck out your old home fitness videos and get downloading: Apps that use GPS can be power hungry so be prepared for your phone battery to get a workout too.
FitBit Ultra: The USB-sized FitBit Ultra is a pedometer on steroids. It counts how many steps you take in a day and monitors how many flights of stairs you climbed, your distance travelled, calories burned and, if you wear it to bed, how restful your sleep was. Your data is uploaded to its website, where you can get a more detailed breakdown of your activity, and if you're really dedicated put in the foods you're eating so you can see if you're burning off more than you're shovelling in. $160.
Scoshe myTrek: Worn on your arm, the Scosche myTrek Wireless Pulse Monitor sends your data wirelessly to your iPhone or Android smartphone (you need to download the app) so you can see your average pulse rate, calories burned, distance and speed, and map your heart rate levels over your route. You can also add playlists to the app for some music while you move. US$80.
Nike + Sportwatch GPS: Another one for the runners, this sportwatch tracks run times, distance, calories burned and your route - all of which you can pore over on your Nike page online. Eager beavers can also set automatic run reminders. $200
Basis: It's not for sale just yet but health fanatics are in a lather over the Basis digital wristwatch, which can monitor your heart rate as well as a range of other factors. It's not just a sportswatch - it measures your temperature and sweat levels and promises to give insight into how your daily activities affect your overall health. The watch connects to the internet via USB so you can view your info, and get suggested tips and goals for improving your health. US$200
Sources: Fitocracy, Six to Start, RunKeeper, C25k.com, Zen Labs, AppAdvisor, Nike, Apple, PumpOne, Google Play, Fitbit, Scosche, Basis Science, Cnet, PC Mag, Mens Fitness, Business Insider, Tecca.
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