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Fitness Apps: The Good & The Bad

The health and fitness category of mobile apps has become extremely popular in the last couple of years, and is now positively flooded with selections. For those who like to use mobile fitness aides to help with health efforts, some of these apps can be wonderful tools, and can really help to inspire and sustain progress. Others, however, are essentially gimmicks. So which health and fitness apps are worth your time (and in some cases, money)? Here are three to avoid, and three to trust.

Fitness Apps To Avoid

1. MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is one of the most popular health and fitness assistants out there and is recognized largely for its impressive library of food items that allows users to track calories by entering their daily diet and exercise habits. For those who are disciplined about losing weight or tracking health, it’s a nice app. However, it can also be somewhat detrimental, as it encourages focus on calorie counting, which most fitness experts advise against for those looking to lose weight. To be fair, the app does tell you when you’re not consuming enough calories per day, and tries to keep you on a healthy track. But still, the focus is more on calories than specifically healthy habits.

2. Nike+ Fuelband

The Nike+ Fuelband is actually a wearable device, but its accompanying app has become very popular for fitness enthusiasts. Truthfully, Fuelband is pretty enjoyable, as it has a nice social component and allows users to track workouts via “Nike Fuel,” which is basically a made up measurement. It’s sleek, fun, social, and addictive. The problem is that there are numerous free, or at least very cheap, services that perform essentially the same functions, whereas a Fuelband is quite pricey.

3. Zombies, Run!

Okay, so this app is a lot of fun. Lifehacker has a nice review up of the general concept, which is basically to turn your cardio workout into an imagined escape from zombies as a sort of motivational tool. It’s a nice idea, and something that can probably be improved upon with wearable technology like Google Glass in the near future, but in terms of being an actual fitness aide, Zombies, Run! is the definition of a gimmick.

Fitness Apps To Try

1. Galaxy S Health

S Health isn’t technically an app, but it will be an included feature on the Samsung Galaxy S5, which will be released soon. Judging by the brief write-up on the health-centered feature at Verizon Wireless, S Health will more or less do everything that Nike Fuel programs are meant to do: track your steps and movements. Additionally, it will provide dietary advice and a built-in heart monitor. That’s a lot of health focus for a program you don’t even need to pay for or download, and it all puts S Health at the forefront of the mobile fitness conversation.

2. Argus

Argus is another tracking app, but it’s probably the most complete one out there. Available for free on iOS devices, the app not only tracks calories and steps taken, but it can help you to monitor your daily water intake, keep track of your meals, and map your cardio activity all in one app. Really, it’s a little bit like MyFitnessPal without the overt, potentially problematic focus on calorie counting. Argus can even go as far as helping you track and monitor your sleep patterns. Overall, it is one of the most complete health and fitness apps on the market.

3. GAIN Fitness

Most popular exercise apps focus primarily on cardio routines, but the GAIN Fitness app is designed for cross training and weightlifting exercises. Basically, the app offers a huge variety of training demonstrations and keeps track of your workouts while pushing you to improve upon previous efforts. The app also includes a built-in workout calendar to help you to stay consistent with your routines. Like any health or fitness app, it requires some level of diligence on the part of the user to be worthwhile, but ultimately it’s a great training assistant.

This article was contributed by Sara Upton.

5 comments… add one

  • Wonderful list I guess and I’m gonna check them out for sure.

  • Yeah, I see MyFitnessPal suggested every time I open Google Play, but I somehow never decided to try it out. I’m not at all fond of calorie tracking and all that jazz, so far I’ve been happy with SportyPal, it’s pretty simple and easy to use and does a very good job helping me track my workouts.
    Thanks for posting!

  • I’ve recently been thinking about an easy way to keep track of my calorie intake as I’m trying to bulk up at the moment, so it was nice to see an article with some recommendations :) Think I’ll give Argus a go!

  • What about mapmyrun? Good or bad?

  • Great post, I like the fact that you outline the good and bad…I use Argo and like you said, it has a lot of functionality, it you want to track it, it probably does!

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