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Mobile-phone programs track steps, beats and calories

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No smart-phone application — at least not yet — can accelerate heart rates, inflate muscles or trim waistlines.

To accomplish that, bodies must be moved, not just thumbs, and calories watched.

While apps alone can’t transform a beer gut, they at least offer quite a bit of guidance, and they are legion, offering everything from daily yoga poses to videos demonstrating proper bench-press form.

Applications can be downloaded to a computer or smartphone, and not just the iPhone anymore. These days, app developers write software for BlackBerry and Android operating systems too.

And, given Colorado’s emphasis on fitness and the state’s density of high-tech professionals and companies, some fitness apps are local.

One LoDo company is filling athletes’ runs, walks, hikes and triathlon training sessions with data: mileage (down to one-hundredth of a mile); exact route — in real time — on a map; pace; stride; even heart rate.

A Boulder company recently developed an app that syncs music libraries with workout paces: When runners are really hoofing it, they might hear the Clash. For the slowdown, get ready for some Brahms.

Whether you lift weights, run marathons, pay close attention to your diet, take walks around the block, swim laps or do jumping jacks — or all of the above — there’s an app for that.

The proliferation of fitness apps has made Jeff Sherard’s workouts more meaningful. They have made his life easier, too.

“I used to joke I’d go out and run and be a wired lab rat — a GPS on one wrist, a heart monitor on the other,” said Sherard, 47, a Boulder IT manager. But now, one suite of apps developed by a Denver company — he uses MapMyRun and MapMyTri — “has replaced a lot of the other tools that I used to use.”

Sherard, a competitive triathlete who calls himself a “data junkie,” uses other fitness apps too. For nutrition, he uses the Livestrong application.

“It’s all collapsing on the iPhone,” he said. “I don’t even take a watch anymore.”

1. MapMyFitness.

One of the cool things about the apps from this Denver company is how they eliminate guesswork. Instead of finishing a run and estimating you traveled about 4 miles, that your pace seemed sluggish, that your heart rate felt more elevated than you would have expected, the MapMyFitness apps tell you precisely how you performed in all of these, and more, categories. Free for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android.

2. FitDeck Mobile.

Workouts can be drudgery, but this app developed by a Boulder software company adds a little bit of zing to the time spent pumping crunches, counting push-ups and doing pull-ups. The idea: Decks of cards with different exercises, broken down into cardio, strength and flexibility. The app mixes the detailed cards for you, pushing you into different workouts. Free trial download. Subscriptions start at $6.99, works with iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and other smartphone operating systems.

3. Upbeat Workouts.

Sally Edwards is one of the top women’s triathletes in the world, and a Boulder company developed the app Upbeat Workouts for her. The app contains Edwards-suggested workouts and more, but the most interesting thing about the app is the synchronization of your workout beat with music in your digital library. $2.99 for iPod touch and iPhone.

4. Fun Run Trainer.

Getting ready for the Boston Marathon? One important piece of advice: Don’t forget the hills. You won’t if you are using Fun Run Trainer, an app you use while on a treadmill that shows you your real- time position on a course (like the Boston Marathon), complete with where your incline on the treadmill should be set. If you are simulating a Boston run, prepare for lots of up and down. $4.99 for iPhone and iPod touch.

5. Tap and Track.

Gaining weight is easy; it’s losing weight, or maintaining it, that is a challenge. To consider: Body chemistry. Exercise. Food. Are you running far enough in the morning to offset that burrito lunch? This app will help you see what you are doing wrong — and right — to lose those 10 pounds, or to stop the waistline from expanding another tenth of an inch. $3.99 for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

6. BodybuggSP Calorie Management System.

This is more than an app — the Bodybugg, used by contestants in “The Biggest Loser” — uses an armband to calculate exactly how many calories wearers burn throughout the day. But now the armband is connected to an app too, which lets users quickly see what they are burning and to easily enter calories entered — food eaten — into the system. $249 for the armband and six-month online subscription, compatible with iPhone, iPod, iPod touch and Android.

7. OnTheSnow.

Preparing to make the Interstate 70 trek on a Saturday morning? The OnTheSnow app might help make things go more smoothly. The app offers comprehensive snow reports from ski areas across the country and throughout Colorado. Free gear guide; $2.99 snow reports for iPhone and BlackBerry.

8. LiveStrong Calorie Tracker.

Achieving a healthy weight involves watching calories and exercising. Easy, right? The formula is simple enough, but everything else about weight is complicated: How many calories are in that banana smoothie? Which dish at Chipotle is the most calorie-friendly? I walked 3.4 miles today, how many calories did I burn? The LiveStrong app helps you figure out the messy details. $2.99 for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and BlackBerry.

Douglas Brown

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