Sunday, December 16, 2018

Best Activity Sharing App: Strava

Strava’s enduring popularity (over ten million people have logged more than one billion activities) isn’t down to the obsessive record-keeping of its users – it’s because of Strava’s social features. You can share your runs and rides with a huge community of users, congratulate others on their efforts, ask for advice, and compete with friends and rivals to nab the King of the Mountain (virtual) jersey for your local hill. Strava is incredibly simple to use for newcomers, yet also offers enough depth in the data it tracks to satisfy those who are happiest whiling away hours analysing their performance. Free, pro £5.99 monthly, App Store and Google Play, strava.com

RECOMMENDED: Eight Essential Tips For Strava Beginners

Best For Tracking Running: Runkeeper

This venerable and extremely popular run-tracking app is stuffed to the gills with details about your on-foot excursions. The interface is clear and the social side of the app is well developed thanks to a 50-million strong userbase. Runkeeper also offers pro users bespoke weekly training plans. Free, pro £7.99 monthly, App Store and Google Play, runkeeper.com

Best For Tracking Cycling: Cyclemeter

There’s a stunning array of data available for cyclists to pore over on this smartphone app, making it comfortably the best pick for stat, map and graph junkies. That wealth of information is presented well with lots of bright colours involved – always a plus in our book. Torn between this and Strava? Stop worrying – you can sync all your Cyclemeter rides to Strava easily and enjoy the benefits of both. Free, pro £9.99 annually, App Store and Google Play, abvio.com/cyclemeter

Best For Counting Calories: Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal

The undisputed king of calorie-counting apps – a title held ever since the days it was simply known as MyFitnessPal. An unparalleled database of foods means it’s easier to log your meals with this app than any other, which accordingly helps you track your calorie intake and detailed macros. All of which should, in theory, make sticking to a healthier diet virtually effortless. Free, pro £7.99 monthly, App Store and Google Play, myfitnesspal.com

Best For Improving Your Cooking: FitMenCook

They certainly do. Cooking your own food means you can keep a closer eye on things like the amount of fat and sugar, which sneak into ready meals and prepared sauces in alarming quantities. This app helps you make healthy meals quickly and cheaply, even if your culinary skills current only extend as far as beans on toast. £3.99, pro £0.79 monthly, £4.49 annually, App Store and Google Play, fitmencook.com

RECOMMENDED: Five Healthy Take-To-Work Lunch Ideas From Fit Men Cook

Best For Guided Running Workouts: Nike+ Run Club

An excellent running app, which features audio-guided runs from Nike coaches and athletes, including the mighty Sir Mo Farah. You can also get a personalised training plan that’s tailored to your goal and current fitness, plus the app will remind you about your sessions and adjust the plan automatically if you’re forced to miss a few. Free, App Store and Google Play, nike.com/plus

Best For Avoiding Bad Weather: Runcast

This nifty app provides all the weather information relevant to your run, so you can dress appropriately, or even delay heading out until the skies clear. £0.99, App Store, endorphinapps.com

Best For Improving Your Sleep: Twilight

Blue light from a screen before bedtime can affect sleep, but going to bed without the electronic devices that leak the stuff is a step too far for many people. Instead of leaving your phone in the kitchen, download Twilight, which automatically covers your screen with a warm red filter once dusk falls. Free, pro £2.99, Google Play, team.urbandroid.org

Best For Building Your Own Interval Workouts: Intervals

If you enjoy mapping out detailed interval workouts of any kind, but quickly lose track of what you’re meant to be doing once you start really sweating, get this app. Plan your sessions through Intervals and it will keep you on track with timers, details on what you’re meant to be doing at any given moment and what you’re doing next. It’s well designed, simple and has everything you require in the free version. Free, pro £2.99, App Store

Best For Gambling On Your Weight Loss: DietBet

Add a financial incentive to your dieting by staking real cash on your weight loss. DietBet users buy into a pot with thousands of others and those that hit their weight-loss targets share the winnings. The money itself won’t be life-changing, but the weight loss could be. Free, App Store and Google Play, dietbet.com

Best For Getting Active And Nostalgic: Pokémon Go

Every little helps when it comes to exercise, so if the prospect of catching multi-coloured creatures from your childhood gets you moving, then have at it. There is some debate around how much Pokémon Go actually benefits fitness, but if you play the game, you do have to get up and walk about. The evidence of that is the mind-boggling 8.7 billion kilometres players walked in the first six months of the app’s life. Yes, a lot of people really like Pokémon. Free, App Store and Google Play, pokemongo.com

Best For Tracking A Wide Variety Of Sports: Endomondo

What sets Endomondo apart from other activity-tracking apps is the sheer number of sports you can record with it, from the most common – running, cycling (both sport and commuting) and hiking – to the least – snowshoeing, windsurfing and canicross (running off-road with your dog). Free, pro £4.49 monthly, App Store and Google Play, endomondo.com

Best Recipe App: SideChef

This free app offers a menu of more than 3,000 recipes with step-by-step instructions. SideChef also has instructional videos, nutrition tips and integrated timers, all to help you stay on track in the kitchen. Free, App Store and Google Play, sidechef.com

Best For Making Running Fun: Zombies, Run!

The ultimate in running gamification, Zombies, Run! plunges you into a world where the undead run amok and you are the key to humanity’s survival. Each run is one of 200 missions where you attempt to gather supplies for your base in a bid to rebuild civilisation. The strength of Zombies, Run! is in the combination of an immersive story with an extremely slick app, all of which helps distract from any pain in your legs. There are four missions available in the free version, plus a new free mission each week. For those who can’t wait that long, the premium subscription unlocks everything. Free, pro £3.49 monthly or £22.99 annually, App Store and Google Play, zombiesrungame.com

Best For Guided Bodyweight Workouts: SWORKIT

Circuit training is an appealing idea, but for many people compiling a list of exercises to ensure a comprehensive workout is too much like hard work. Fortunately, SWORKIT has oodles of bodyweight exercises built in to the app, with pre-set routines that let you choose whether you want to focus on strength, cardio, yoga or stretching, and which parts of the body, if not all of it, you want to target. Onscreen animations guide you through every step of your workout, which you can set to last from five minutes to an hour. And once you’ve become a circuit training buff, you can use the exercise bank to build your own session from scratch. Free, pro £2.29 monthly, App Store and Google Play, sworkit.com

Best For Strength Training Plans: Freeletics Bodyweight & Freeletics Gym

Freeletics creates a personalised plan for your fitness, using solely bodyweight exercise so you can get in shape anywhere (Freeletics Bodyweight) or free weights if you train in the gym (Freeletics Gym). Slow-motion videos teach you every exercise and there’s motivation aplenty to be found in the thriving Freeletics community. £25.99 for three months, £44.99 for six months, £59.99 annually, App Store and Google Play, freeletics.com

Best For A Fast Workout: Seven

This app offers short bodyweight workouts to ensure you keep in shape no matter what time and travel constraints you face. And when you have more than a few minutes to spare, it’s easy to add in a couple more circuits on Seven’s app, which guides you through every step of your exercise via images on both your phone and smartwatch, if you have one. Free, £1.49 for extra workouts, App Store and Google Play, perigee.se

Best For A Six-Pack: Runtastic Six Pack Abs

There are many apps available that promise to deliver six-pack abs, but this is the pick of the bunch. Runtastic Six Pack Abs has a decent bank of abs exercises, which it combines into quick, easy-to-follow core workouts. Free, pro £3.99, App Store and Google Play, runtastic.com/sixpack

Best For Beginner Runners: C25K

C25K’s eight-week plan involves running (or walking) for 30 minutes a day, three days a week, and can transform anyone from couch potato to 5Kkm finisher. Free, pro £4.99, App Store and Google Play, c25kfree.com

RECOMMENDED: Coach’s Free 8-Week Couch To 5K Training Plan

Best For Finding Exercise Classes: MINDBODY

Find the studios and fitness classes near you with the help of MINDBODY, which lets you search by class type and location. Free, App Store and Google Play, mindbodyonline.com

Best For Soundtracking Your Workouts: Fit Radio

Soundtrack your workout with playlists designed to ensure you give 110% (or a less clichéd yet equally impressive amount of effort) every time. Fit Radio has mixes for every kind of exercise, and will detect your running pace automatically to match up with the beat. Free, pro £2.99 monthly, App Store and Google Play, fitradio.com

Best For Weight Training: Gymaholic

A comprehensive workout aid for those who commit plenty of time to the weights room. The library of exercises can be used in a set of workout plans for all abilities, or you can build your own custom routine. Free, pro £4.99, App Store, gymaholic.me

Best Weight Training App For Beginners: StrongLifts 5×5

Simplicity is the key to this strength-training app’s success. It breaks down exactly what exercises to do, including the amount of reps, sets and weight, and makes it easy to measure your progress over time. Free, £9.99 for Power Pack, App Store and Google Play, stronglifts.com

Best For Cycling Navigation: CycleMaps

Where regular mapping apps sometimes inadvertently send you along the fastest route even if that means the busiest roads, CycleMaps will find you the route best suited to cyclists. This makes it particularly invaluable in big cities, where using the network of back roads and cycle paths can make every ride far more enjoyable. Free, £3.99 pro, App Store, cyclema.ps

Best Walking App: The Walk

The Walk puts you at the centre of a plot where you have to traverse the length of the UK carrying a package that could save the world. The adventure spans 500 miles (805km), 65 episodes and 800 minutes of audio, so it should keep you walking for a while. £2.59-£2.99, App Store (£2.99) and Google Play (£2.59), thewalkgame.com

Best Reward App: Running Heroes

If you’re a keen runner or cyclist you’d frankly be a fool not to download Running Heroes. Link it to your favourite tracking app – Strava, Garmin or whatever else – and then every activity you undertake will rack up points in the Running Heroes app. These points will net discounts on every major athletic gear brand, as well as money off races and one-off treats. The points also count towards regularly competitions for grander prizes, like a new fitness tracker. Free, App Store and Google Play, runningheroes.com

Best For Swimming: Speedo On

Pity the poor swimmer, looking on as runners and cyclists are pandered to with app after new app. Speedo On aims to redress the balance by providing a platform to log and improve your swimming. It syncs with Misfit and Garmin waterproof trackers but what sets it apart are the training plans, challenges and benchmarking exercises to help develop your aquatic ability. Free, App Store and Google Play, on.speedo.com

Best For Grand Challenges: My Virtual Mission

Most people will never have the time or money to embark on a grand adventure like cycling around the world or running the length of the UK. This app allows you to set up an overarching goal, which you can then chip away at via your everyday walking, cycling, running, kayaking or whatever else you do to keep yourself active. Free, App Store and Google Play, myvirtualmission.com

Best For Giving Back: Charity Miles

Ramp up the endorphin rush you get at the end of exercise by adding the warm glow of knowing you’ve made a difference, however small. For every mile you walk, run or cycle with Charity Miles, corporate sponsors will donate money to a charity of your choice. Free, App Store and Google Play, charitymiles.org

Best Navigation App For Heading Off-Road: Komoot

Set out for the great outdoors safe in the knowledge you won’t get lost thanks to Komoot’s offline maps, which include suggested routes for hikers and bikers. Free, £7.99 per extra map region, App Store and Google Play, komoot.de

Best For Exploring: Geocaching

Head outside and join the world’s largest treasure hunt, seeking geocaches – small packages hidden by other users. It’s addictive and will take you to some surprising places. Free, pro £4.99 monthly, App Store and Google Play, geocaching.com

Best For Yoga Classes: Yogaia

A live online studio that brings yoga, Pilates and other classes into your home, for those who either don’t have the time to make it to a class, or fear the judgment of other attendees when it comes to a sloppy downward dog. Although you’ll be invisible to other participants, the instructor will be able to see you, so they can correct any mistakes. As well as live classes, there are also a host of recorded sessions if you don’t need an instructor’s guidance. £14.99 monthly, £32.99 for three months, £89.99 annually, App Store and Google Play, yogaia.com

Best When You’re A Man Short for Five-A-Side: Find A Player

Sometimes all the motivation you need to exercise is a pal to do it with. Input the activities you’re interested in and your ability, and you’ll be matched with others who need an extra body for their six-a-side team, badminton session, gym trip or whatever else floats their fitness boat. Free, App Store and Google Play, findaplayer.com

Best Mindfulness/Meditation App: Headspace

Meditation can be a useful tool to manage stress but, like almost everything, it takes a little practice to do it properly. Headspace promises to teach you meditation in just ten minutes a day. You can test those claims with its free Take10 trial, which provides ten ten-minute sessions for beginners. The full app is pricy, but brings with it hundreds of hours of content to help you meditate. Free, pro £9.99 monthly, £74.99 annually, App Store and Google Play, headspace.com

Best Diet Planning App: Lifesum

It’s the smooth design of Lifesum that sets it apart from other diet apps. Once you’ve set a goal – Lose Weight, Gain Weight or Be Healthier – the app tracks every part of your diet and exercise, and makes recommendations on how to progress to your target. Lifesum integrates with a host of other apps to ensure it doesn’t miss a step of your activity, and is even more impressive on the diet side in the Gold version, with recipes, meal plans and comprehensive feedback on the nutritional content of your food. Free, Gold £7.99 monthly, App Store and Google Play, lifesum.com

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