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Five of the best: Health & Fitness Apps

From private yoga classes to guided meditations, your iPhone provides you with everything you need to get up, get out and get moving. In this week’s Health & Wellbeing blog, Lizzy Wood brings you the five apps that help keep her on track.

Five of the best: Health & Fitness Apps

With over 425,000 applications on Apple’s App Store available to download at the touch of a button, it can be hard to separate the good from the brilliant, and the brilliant from the downright necessary. When it comes to health and fitness, Apple’s catch phrase “there’s an app for that” has never been more accurate. Your pocket device can instantly be transformed into a personal trainer, yoga instructor, calorie counter and more. Better yet, with many applications free of charge, your monthly gym membership can quickly become redundant as you step outside with your iPhone in hand.

Nike+ GPS

Not everyone enjoys running but for those who do Nike+ GPS is the perfect way to keep track of the distance and frequency you’re running, and keep you motivated. The app is free of charge and uses the GPS to map where you run, providing you with a workout summary that includes your pace, time and calories burned.

It’s quick and easy to get started with the application, and if, like me, you find yourself flagging half way around your planned route, an alert once every kilometre certainly helps keep you going. The app can also be synchronised with an existing Nike+ account, Facebook and Twitter, so you can share your runs, walks or rides.

For more information and to download, click here

MyFitnessPal

Be warned: this app can be thoroughly addictive, and although I’m not an advocate of calorie counting, the ability to track my nutritional intake keeps me coming back.

Essentially a device to help manage weight loss, MyFitnessPal helps you track the foods you consume, the amount of water you drink and the exercise you complete on a daily basis. As well as recording your calorific intake, the app provides a comprehensive breakdown of nutrients consumed each day, and can reveal where you may need to make adjustments in your diet.

Entering the information isn’t as time consuming as it sounds and after an initial time investment can be completed in around five minutes a day. By taking into account your weight, height, age and gender, MyFitnessPal can help you set weight loss (or gain) goals and will chart your progress. The app can be integrated with an online account and alerts can be sent to your phone if you’re in need of encouragement.

For more information and to download, click here.

Yoga Trainer Pro

With so many types and styles of yoga, what works for me, won’t necessarily work for you. Having tried and tested numerous free apps designed to assist in yoga practice I finally decided to invest in a paid-for app, the Yoga Trainer Pro. The app allows me to practice routines at home that I would otherwise struggle with without an instructor. I prefer to use the iPad version for its larger screen.

With step-by-step instructions for over 70 poses, the app is comprehensive and highly configurable, allowing you to create your own routines, as well as follow guided practice. Video content adds a much-needed perspective that many similar apps lack, and the clear audible instructions make the poses easy to follow.

For more information and to download, click here.

The Mindfulness App

Technology is often blamed for distracting us from daily life, but this app aims to bring greater mindfulness to day-to-day living. Developed in Sweden by meditation and yoga instructors Martin Wikfalk and Magnus Fridh, The Mindfulness App allows you to set personal reminders, track your time spent meditating and guide you through meditations.

Considered a traditional Buddhist practice, mindfulness teaches individuals to increase their awareness of the present moment through meditation and breathing exercises. “The Mindfulness App combines modern technology with ancient wisdom in a creative way,” says Fridh. “Many people have heard about and tried mindfulness and meditation but then find it challenging to keep their practice going in the midst of their busy lives.”

Although it can’t help you create time to meditate, the app can be set up to encourage and remind you to stay alert to your surroundings by sending notifications to your phone.

For more information and to download, click here.

Nike Training Club

Perhaps it’s not surprising that Nike have cornered the market when it comes to fitness apps, but if you’re looking for a personal trainer in your pocket, then look no further. Nike Training Club is a free app, offering a seemingly endless array of guided workouts designed to help you get “lean”, “toned”, “strong” or “focused”. With workouts designed for beginners, intermediates and advanced individuals, it’s both quick and easy to compile a workout suited to your needs and your time constraints.

Each workout is broken down by exercise, with a video animation to ensure you know exactly what to do, for how long, and with what equipment. Set to music and with clear, audible instructions for every step, it’s easy to follow and the best bit is you can keep track of your progress – something that keeps me motivated.

For more information and to download, click here.

What about you …

–    What apps to you use to help you stay fit and healthy?

–    Have you used any of the apps mentioned above? What did you think of them?

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