7 Great Health & Fitness Apps

Often, my patients ask me what apps I use to keep track of fitness and to help with running and workout planning. Here’s a few thoughts on some of my favorites.


App: Interval Timer
Good for: Self-motivating high intensity interval workout on your own.
What it does: Allows you to set a timer for warm-up time and then periods of high intensity and low intensity.  For example, I like to use it for running speed work—I’ll do a warm up jog for five minutes, and then set two-minute low intensity mixed with 45-second high intensity sprints.
The app will sound an alarm when it’s time to switch. (I like the air horn and boxing ring noises!) You could also use this for Tabata workouts or HIIT bodyweight workouts.
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App: Walk Jog Run
Good for: Anyone training for a running race for the first time (or the fifth).
What it is: In the Walk Jog Run app, Jenny Hadfield, founder of Chicago Endurance Sports, guides you through 5K, 10K, half marathon or marathon training. They offer beginner, intermediate, and advanced plans. They even designate days for rest and recovery cross training.
Bonus: Right now they have training plans for running with your dog!
Alternative: I’ve also used the Nike running app for half marathon training, and have noticed the Nike running app is geared towards more advanced runners with more aggressive training plans.
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App: Nike Training Club
Good for: Full-body interval workouts that combine bodyweight and weighted moves.
What it is: NTC has got to be the best app I’ve ever seen in terms of complexity, variety, and user-friendliness—and it’s free! Once inside the app, workout categories include Get Lean or Get Strong, then guide you to beginner, intermediate, or advanced. From there, you can choose up to one of 15 exercise routines, which are already mapped out in time for you. They include a warm-up intreval training and a cool down. The workouts require very minimal props, such as a medicine ball or dumbbell. It is mostly bodyweight training in a high intensity interval training style.
Bonus: If you don’t know what you’re doing there is an option to pause the workouts and watch videos demonstrating how to perform the exercise.They also give you little pep talks along the way like,  “keep going!” and “watch your form!” to keep you on track during your workout.
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App: MyFitnessPal
Good for: Food diary, calorie counting, and exercise tracking app.
Why I like it: MyFitnessPal easily integrates the Map My Run and other fitness trackers and features crowd sourced calorie/nutritional information as well as the option to enter recipes manually or search by barcode.
Extras: MyFitnessPal will break down your nutritional info for the day and you can set goals to keep track of your percentages: i.e., 30% carbs, 50% protein, 20% fat.
Also see: LoseIt, whose food choice options and interface I actually prefer, but it doesn’t sync as seamlessly to fitness apps and doesn’t offer nutritional breakdowns in basic version.

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App: Map My Run
Good for: Tracking real-time GPS biking, running, or walking workouts, logging workouts of other types.
Why I like it: I use both Map My Run and the Nike Running App as GPS trackers. Map My Run edges out Nike during periods when I’m using a fooddiary as it syncs seamlessly with MyFitnessPal and offers the ability to log other workouts such as biking, swimming, and class workouts. I also like the ability to log on with my laptop and map my route in advance. One downside to running with a GPS tracker in the city is that I’ve noticed they have a tendency to overestimate distance by about 10%, so pre-mapping my route keeps me honest.
Alternative: Nike Running App, Walk Jog Run
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App: Audiobooks on Overdrive
Why I like it: I’ve become obsessed with listening to audiobooks from Chicago Public Library with Overdrive. Who doesn’t like having a running buddy to tell them a story?
App: Nike Running App
Bragging rights: Nike Running App has a share option that will overlay your route and distance onto a photo. Take a picture at the peak of yourrun and share with your motivation buddies when you’re done!
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