We’ve selected these apps based on their quality, user reviews, and overall reliability as a source of support for people who want to up their fitness game. If you want to nominate an app for this list, email us at email@example.com.
It’s no mystery that physical fitness is a key component to healthful living. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), physical activity can help improve cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce risk of heart disease and stroke — to name just a few benefits. With summer just around the corner, there’s no better time to get active and enjoy being outside.
So, whatever your current fitness level or needs, here are the best apps around for helping you get — and stay — physical all year long.
Like the popular Fitbit wearable activity trackers, this app is ideal for counting steps and tracking your run pace, time, and distance. The Fitbit app doesn’t stop there, though. Use it to track not only what you do and when you do it, but also what you eat, how much you drink, and what progress you’ve made toward your fitness goals. The options are endless when you pair the app with a Fitbit activity tracker or Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale.
As the name implies, this app is perfect for new runners and those needing a little more motivation to put feet to pavement. The app walks (then runs) you through a series of workouts that gradually become more difficult. They’re designed to get you from the couch to running a 5k in just nine weeks with three 20-30 minute workouts per week. Pick a virtual coach to match your motivation style and the app will guide you through workouts as you listen to your own tunes. Plus, a manual option means you can run on a treadmill instead of relying on GPS to track your progress.
30 Day Fit Challenge Workout
Thirty-day challenges are a big fitness trend these days, and why not? They’re a great way to get your fitness groove back. Tone your abs, butt, or entire body in one month with this app. The exercises are designed to use your bodyweight as resistance so you don’t need fancy gym equipment. Work out at home, on vacation, or pretty much anywhere, by following a plan set to your preferred difficulty level. Video guides walk you through exercises, and the app even automatically records your progress so all you have to focus on is holding that plank for a few more seconds.
Map My Run
If running is already your workout of choice, or if you’d like to improve your stride, check out Map My Run. The app provides feedback and statistics based on your performance, so it’s like having a running coach by your side. You can also find great new routes and places to run, check out others’ favorite spots with the online Under Armour fitness community, and share your own. Plus, you can log other activities besides running. (Make those surprise stairs on that new route count for something!) Map My Run is also compatible with several wearable activity trackers.
A personal trainer in your pocket, this app guides you through more than 1,700 exercises and 75 workout routines with more than 1,000 videos and 4,000 exercise photos and animations. You can sort this portable library by muscle group or equipment type, and even build your own routines so you can be sure your workouts will always work for you. Use the app to keep track of your metrics and graph your progress, too.
BodySpace — Social Fitness App
BodySpace certainly puts the “social” in “social fitness.” The app features a number of training programs built by professional trainers, athletes, and BodySpace community members, all designed to make fitness a lasting routine. If you aren’t ready to set long-term fitness goals, or just want to see what else is out there, you can choose single workouts or find exercises based on muscle group, equipment type, and community rating. The app also makes it easy to share and stay motivated with access to a community of others cheering you on.
Jillian Michaels — Training and Meal Plans
With this app, celebrity fitness and nutrition superstar Jillian Michaels guides you through workouts for everybody. Choose your workout level, fitness goals, and even workout plans to truly customize your experience. Video and audio guides coach you through more than 550 exercises and programs lasting 30, 60, or 90 days.
There are also meal plans available for iPhone. Check out meal plans and hundreds of recipes, including vegan and paleo options. While the app is free to download, you’ll need to subscribe (starting at $9.99 per month) to access everything it has to offer.
If getting “swole” is how you stay fit, then this may be a great tracker for you. With an exercise database of more than 1,300 exercises, the app lets you explore new moves and build your own routines. You can also download routines built by other JEFIT community members. Track your weights, reps, and sets, use the built-in timer for interval training and rest time, and even take notes while working out. After a great workout, check out the online community to share stats and tips.
Looking to shape up for a 5k? A marathon? Just trying to get outside more? Runkeeper can help keep you motivated and on track. With customizable fitness goal settings, you set your fitness terms while the app tracks your progress. Audio cues, virtual running groups, and built-in challenges keep routine runs fresh. You can also switch into stopwatch mode to track indoor or stationary cardio, and share activities on Facebook and Twitter. Compatible with Spotify and other apps, Runkeeper can streamline your running experience so all you have to focus on is getting up that next hill.
Designed to work with an UP activity tracker (specifically UP, UP24, or UP MOVE), this app takes fitness to a new level. With the UP app you can track activity, food and calorie intake, and even sleep. (The Smart Alarm feature can even wake you up at the best time in your sleep cycle.) Use features like Smart Coach to set personal challenges, like drinking more water during the day or taking a few extra steps.
Fitstar Personal Trainer
Fitstar Personal Trainer is the app for fitness that fits your day. The app offers personalized video workouts that range from seven to 50 minutes, so you can always get the perfect workout. If you use a Fitbit wearable, the app can even recommend exercises based on your tracked activity. Plus, new routines are added every month so workouts will never get stale. While you can access the app from your phone or computer, you’ll need an active internet connection to use it.
Have you ever wanted your own soundtrack? Then Spring may be music to your ears. The app uses the power of rhythm to synch music to your tempo so you can keep pace, increase speed, and maintain good form while walking or running. You can even use the music as a training tool to increase your cadence. A built-in GPS keeps track of your route, distance, calories burned, and which songs played where, so you’re truly the maestro of your workout.
If helping others gets you going, then Charity Miles can make those extra steps count a little extra. Choose from more than 40 charities representing a variety of causes, and just start walking, running, or cycling to earn real cash. The app lets you track how much you and the Charity Miles community have raised for your charity of choice, along with how many miles and workouts you've counted. The great thing about Charity Miles is that it isn’t either/or — you can use it alongside other trackers and apps. Just open the app and let your steps bring in the cash.
5F: Find Fit Friends
Prefer a little socializing while you sweat? Need a tennis partner? 5F helps you find fitness buddies for all of your favorite activities. Find and chat with new friends based on age, gender, activity, and location. You can also pick your skill level so you’re sure to get the right workout. There’s even a “want to try” option so you can broaden your fitness horizon and check out a new sport or workout.
Kristen Barta is a doctoral candidate in Communication at the University of Washington, where she researches the intersections of technology, social support, and sexual assault disclosure. Prior to graduate school, she worked as an educator and activist in the movement to end violence against women. She currently lives in the Bay Area and enjoys gardening and cooking elaborate vegetarian meals in her spare time