Share This Post

Health / Technology

Boost your workout with these fitness apps that help your workout and keep you safe

Boost your workout with these fitness apps that help your workout and keep you safe

Here’s another thing your smartphone can do: help improve your workout.

Yes, there’s an app for that. Many, many apps. Apps that track calories burned and calories consumed, time your intervals, coach meditation sessions and yoga poses, galvanize your running routine and raise money for charity by tracking your mileage.

Emily Schromm, a Denver-based personal trainer, embraces fitness apps and encourages her clients to use them, too.

“I love using My Fitness Pal, Map My Run andMy Cloud Tag apps with my clients,” Schromm said.

“It keeps them honest, keeps it fun, and makes them way more likely to complete a workout when I’m not there.”

Like sophisticated exercise machines that track watts as well as heart rate, pace, revolutions per minute, and other data, fitness apps help keep you accountable.

An app that knows your age, gender, weight and height will more accurately measure calories burned — unfortunately, often fewer than most of us would like to think. That will make you think twice about your food and drink choices.

Two University of Washington researchers studied fitness apps and concluded that tracking tools, like My Fitness Pal, motivate and empower users. James Fogarty, associate professor of computer science and engineering, and Sean Munson, assistant professor of human centered design and engineering, found that users were more likely to meet their fitness goals.

Another advantage: Most of these apps are easy to download and use immediately. On the downside, they suck up a lot of your phone’s battery power. And you’ll need to school yourself in inputting your food and exercise data several times a day until it’s a habit.

One thing the smartest phone app can’t do: help you work your way out of a slump if you’re not meeting your goal. There’s not an app for that. Yet.

Here are a few of the most popular fitness apps, and our experience using them.



RunSafe (free and $4.99 monthly)

Developed by a Boulder mom who developed it after a running accident, RunSafe offers standard fitness tracking and panic button app functions as well as a community watch feature that allows users to alert future runners of possible dangers on a path, and a premium virtual buddy feature that notifies select contacts when users start and finish a run, as well as when a runner is gone longer than expected and allows them to track the run in real time. There are two options: the free app version has fitness cracking, text and email alerts, an alert profile and community alert.

For $4.99/month, RunSafe offers all free features and also creates primary and secondary contracts, notification to contacts regarding the start and end of a workout, automatic alerts and you may view your workout in real time.

Charity Miles (free)

Runners, walkers and cyclists can earn five to 10 cents per mile for one of nine charities, including Habitat For Humanity, Feeding America, Achilles International and Girls On The Run. The money is donated by corporate sponsors.

The catch? Users have to share their activity (and the charity) on Facebook and Twitter in order for the charity to receive donations, which gives the sponsors a new way to connect with consumers.

A timer and GPS track your progress after you swipe the touchscreen to start your workout. End it by swiping up, and obediently thanking your sponsor (just like a professional athlete!) on social media.


If you’re a sucker for British accents (and who isn’t? Besides the French?) you’ll love this app. Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk and author, narrates 10-minute meditation sessions.

Follow his gentle directions, and even the most fretful mind-chatter will slow, leaving you feeling calmer and more centered. Even better: Puddicombe (even his name is cool) is straightforward, not New Age mushy. It’s like getting a mental massage.

LoseIt! (free)

Using your date of birth, gender, height and weight, and your goal weight, LoseIt! creates a daily budget that tracks your calorie intake and exercise, and calculates how many calories you require in order to lose or maintain weight.

This means faithfully inputting everything you consume, which can feel like a chore but can be eye-opening. Those calcium chews you congratulate yourself for taking? Twenty calories apiece. And typing in your Happy Hour treats or TV popcorn — portion size is crucial — it may redefine your snack habits.

My Fitness Pal (free)

Like LoseIt!, My Fitness Pal uses basic information — birth ate, gender, height and weight, goal weight — to budget your calorie intake and output.

Both LoseIt! and My Fitness Pal offer social media connections challenging friends with the same apps, which appeals to competitive types. Like LoseIt!, My Fitness Pal requires meticulously tracking what you eat and your exercise.

One advantage over LoseIt! is a more complete database of restaurant food, including Chipotle, California Pizza Kitchen and Subway. It also tracks how much water you’re drinking, a feature missing on LoseIt!

Tabata Pro ($2.99)

Straightforward timer counts down 10 seconds of prep, then 20 seconds for a sprint, then 10 seconds off, and 20 seconds on again for eight cycles in the pre-set workout. You can change the length of each timing session to last up to 60 minutes.

Then all you have to do is follow the prompts — and survive the session.

Yoga Studio ($3.99)

If you’ve never taken a yoga class, Yoga Studio is challenging because you’ll need to know basic poses. Knowing how to perform poses correctly is critical to avoid injury. A good yoga instructor can adjust your form until you can feel the difference between right and wrong.

If you’ve taken enough yoga classes to understand that distinction, then Yoga Studio is a great way to maintain your practice between classes.

One misstep: The uber-calm narrator uses the instructor’s left and right for direction, which is slightly disorienting, because the app user’s left and right are opposite the instructor’s. Also, the Yoga Studio developers thought it was a good idea to use that spacey background music beloved by New Agers and spa owners.

Zombies, Run! ($3.99)

Tailor-made for gamers (and might even get them off the couch in Mom’s basement), this app puts the user to work.

More than 160 missions feature storylines that rely on you to rebuild a devastated civilization by collecting virtual supplies as you evade lurking zombies. When those zombies appear, it’s your cue to speed up to a sprint (or a fast walk).

The half-hour (or so) stories can play on their own, or unfold between your playlist tracks.

Claire Martin, with Amber Johnson

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

Share This Post

Leave a Reply