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Just do it: Fitness apps to get you off the couch

It’s just about mid-July, Winter is coming to an end and with it all the time we had to get into shape for another long, hot Summer is vanishing quicker than we can say ‘couch potato’.  It’s not a surprise, this happens every year.  For my part, I will be heavily incentivising my last-ditch-efforts with new trainers and any form of application that will excite me with its bright screen and nifty functionality long enough to actually go for a run.  Here are some of the best available.

Nike+ Running

Nike+Running

Nike+Running – iTunes

Brand loyalty is a big thing for me.  When I hear the word ‘Nike’ I immediately place all my eggs in that little swooshed basket and expect nothing but the best from the sports and fitness giants.  Now-redesigned, the Nike+ Running app (a continuing collaboration with Apple) allows you to track your progress with each run – calculating time, pace, distance and calories burned with the help of GPS.  Once you’ve inputted your distance goals, you’ll have a constant reminder of how well you’re doing or how far behind you’ve fallen.  The guilt factor is not for me but the audio feedback you get during your run just might do it.  You can even get cheered on in real time if you post the start of your run on Facebook to get Likes and comments from friends that translate into cheering from your device.  Share your runs with your ‘cheer squad’ and running buddies on Facebook to irritate everyone you know into joining in the fun (or de-friending you).

When you’re done for the day you can sync your run online to NikePlus.com to get a visual representation of your pace and elevation, view nearby routes suggested by other runners and pay a visit to Fuelee, the app’s animated mascot, to get a rundown of your achievements.  There are a myriad of other running options in the Nike+ world, the SportWatch GPS, iPod Nano app that provides audio feedback as you run to your selected playlist, the SportBand and FuelBand.  But, with great music integration and all the basic tracking functionality you’ll need  it’s more than enough to purchase just the app.  It’s available for iPhone and Android and is absolutely free on iTunes.

RunKeeper

A long-time player in the running game, this app is also GPS-powered and lets you to store an incredible amount of data to see you well into your weight loss dreams.  Your profile will include body measurements, weight loss and sleep patterns, allowing you to see how these relate to each other and what’s holding you back from your fitness goals.  It allows manual entry which is handy if you’ve forgotten it on your last run and also has an audio coach to keep you motivated along the way.

Like the Nike+, the RunKeeper allows you to track pace, distance and elevation but also allows other fitness apps to access your account and add their own data so that you have a true reflection of your progress no matter how many different apps you use.  Other popular choices like Gym Hero and FitBolt are available, as well as over seventy other apps, so whether you’re running, swimming or lifting weights not a drop of sweat will go unrecorded.  Great news if you want to do more than run but still consolidate all your training in  one central fitness hub.  On the downside, the app is not that aesthetically-pleasing and running may feel like the chore it is without the colourful interface and cute Fuelee character offered by Nike.  If you value bells and shiny whistles over practicality, this may not be for you.  Runkeeper is available free for iOS and Android.

RunKeeper

RunKeeper.com

Zombies, Run!

Run, Zombies!

iTunes.com

“You tie your shoes, put on your headphones, take your first steps outside. You’ve barely covered 100 yards when you hear them. They must be close. You can hear every guttural breath, every rattling groan – they’re everywhere. Zombies. There’s only one thing you can do: Run!” – Zombiesrungame.com

In the spirit of diversity I thought it was important to include something a little different.  A lot of these apps are much the same, being better or worse examples of the front-runners but this fun item has taken a very different view on fitness and motivation.  Calling itself a ‘running game and audio adventure’, the premise of the game is that you are being chased by zombies and are in effect running for your life while the on-going story is played out for you.  Like it’s more serious counterparts, time, distance, pace and burnt calories are calculated but you will be collecting life-saving items like medicine, ammunition and batteries on your way.  It’s up to you to make major decisions like who needs the medicine most and which buildings are in need of extra defenses during your mission, as you uncover mysteries, solve puzzles and basically stay alive.  You will need to keep your base going with anything you find so the mission to get in shape is not a selfish one as the survival of others depends on you!  Luckily this can be done to your own custom play lists to keep you in good spirits while hundreds of lives hang in the balance.

When you get home not only are you doing a re-con of how hard you worked but you will be advancing in the game, using all the things you’ve found to grow your base and prevent a complete zombie apocalypse.  It comes with a hefty price tag compared to the others but with so much more to offer, the $7.99 shouldn’t scare you off. The game is for use on the iPhone, iPod Touch, Android and Windows Phone, plus a RunKeeper integration is on the cards.

If nothing else you’ve tried has worked thus far it’s more than worthwhile checking some of these out.  If anything you’ll be able to keep tabs on the little you are able to do and make yourself feel better with a record of the five minute walk you took to the corner shop.  Then again, if zombies are chasing you around the block, you just might do more.

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