iPhone Exercise and Fitness Apps

If you read here often enough you are going to discover that though I got to the Apple party late, I have enjoyed the experience.  So, I want to spend this post writing about two more apps for iPhone that I have used and can recommend heartily.

I upgraded our family phones to iPhone 4s’s last October after putting it off as long as I could.  About the time we purchased the new phones (we actually got in on the actual release day through ordering via the ATT Store online), I read an article by Michael Hyatt  in which he suggested two apps that he had used and benefitted from.  I got one of them and started using them as a part of my exercise and fitness program.

The app that Michael mentioned was LoseIt and the other app I started using was MapMyFitness.  One has helped me keep track of my food intake and the other helps me keep track of my running.

LoseIt

LoseIt is not the only app of its kind.  There are many, but I have found LoseIt to be an effective tool to help me set goals related to my weight and to guide me toward meeting those goals.

I am in my early 50s, and over the past 20 years had managed to put on about 2 lbs per year, such that I was carrying around the weight of an extra small child!  I had been running  (see other posts here about exercise) since I was 44 except for some short breaks due to a few miscellaneous injuries (not related to running).

So I knew I needed to drop a few pounds.  It was harder to run than it should be.  When I read about LoseIt in Michael Hyatt’s blog post I went and grabbed the app (after getting my iPhone).

When you first fire up the app, you will walk through a series of questions about your age, height, weight.  Pretty typical stuff.

But there are two additional questions that are also part of the setup, and I think they are where the real strength of the app lies.

First, it asks you what your desired weight is.  I was tipping the scales at 217, and wanted to be at 175 by July 2012.  Next, it asks how much weight you want to lose per week.

I figured losing a pound a week was a slow enough weight loss program that it would not be impossible to keep the weight after I was at my target weight.

The next step is pretty straightforward.  Based on the information you have just provided,  LoseIt will calculate how many calories you need to limit yourself to each day.  The tasks then for you is to input what you have eaten at each meal and any snacks.  It does the calculations.

Included is a fair sized data base of foods, including supermarket bought items and many restaurants.  You can also create new foods.  I especially like the bar-code reader as it pulls the data from the Internet, and populates the caloric and nutritional information.

As you lose weight and record the changes, LoseIt will adjust your daily caloric intake downward to keep you on a gentle glide toward your goal.

I have found LoseIt to be very easy to use, and have lost a pound per week virtually every week, including through the holidays.  It has made it possible for me to get a sense of portion size, and understand how much I need to eat.

When coupled with exercise, which you can track in LoseIt in your daily log of meals, it further calculates what caloric values you have remaining for the day, and even the week.

Interestingly, I have found that in weeks when I actually don’t eat to the full allotment of calories for a day/week, I tend to not lose any weight or only very small amounts (fractions of a lb).

I can highly recommend LoseIt.  It is available in the App store for free.  There is an online service available which I have not chosen to join.

mapMyFitness

For the over 6 years I have been running I have listened to music via an iPod (first a 1st gen shuffle, now an iPhone, with a Nano and Classic thrown in for good measure).  Listening to music makes running really easy for me.

But keeping track of the workouts was done manually until about 3 years ago.  I got a Nike+ add on for iPod Nano, and enjoyed it.  But it needed to be calibrated for distance, and over time the calibration had degraded.

When we got iPhones, I made a switch to mapMyFitness, which is an iPhone app from the good folks who rolled out mapMyRun.com several years ago.  I have given it a try, and by and large like it.  It is by no means the only exercise app out in the market, but it is worth your consideration.

As with most exercise apps for iPhone, mapMyFitness uses the phone’s GPS technology to track a route (if you using it for walking, running or cycling; it might work for canoeing or kayaking, I just haven’t tried it for that purpose).

Settings are intuitive enough for new users.  By default it tracks distance as the preferred unit of measure (as opposed to time), but can be change easily enough.  You can set your preferences for how much information to be announced at your preferred measurement, and include time, pace overall, and pace in the most recent period.   I limited my announcements after the first few weeks because the voice report was taking almost a full minute!

You can pause your workout and resume, which is typical of exercise apps.  However, the interface for pausing and resuming is very clunky and not attractive at all (a place for improvement).

Once a workout is complete you have many options.  Of course you can save your work out, but you can also chose to set it as a private workout or set it to share the workout with social networks (FB and Twitter).  You can review your route, and view the elevation of your workout route.

MapMyFitness is functional, but I think it could certainly be improved.

What about you?  Do you have favorite exercise or fitness apps for the iPhone?

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by Thad on February 28, 2012 · 12 comments

tagged as , in exercise

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  • http://passiveincometoretire.com Corey @ Passive Income to Retire

    I hadn’t heard of lose if or map my fitness. I’m glad lose it sounds simple, because I have a difficult time thinking someone would use it to keep them accountable – it kind of seems like one extra thing. But then again, perhaps it WILL help with accountability and motivation.

    • http://www.thadthoughts.com Thad

      I haven’t thought of those two apps in terms of accountability. I have been running regularly since 2005, but wanted a better means to track my workouts than I was getting with Nike+ on an iPod Nano. LoseIt? I am in my early 50s, and wanted to shed weight in a slow downward glide, because I want to keep it off. So far LoseIt has been great for me…am down 22 lbs since Oct 14th.

      Accountability? I suppose the social network integration on these apps fits that need, but I chosen not to share publicly.

  • http://youngcheapliving.com Kraig @ Young, Cheap Living

    My favorite is mapMyFitness. I used it quite a bit last summer while getting starting on running. It’s an awesome app, when it works. I really liked how it would automatically sense my time and distance. It would allow me to hit start when I take off and hit stop when I hit my desired length. I was doing 1 mile runs just to see how fast I could do them so this worked perfectly for it. It would work less great for longer treks as you may forget to turn it off and it would drain your iPhone battery. Also, I had troubles with this app freezing or not picking up the GPS signal. Overall though, I did enjoy using the app and will use it again this summer for running.

    • http://www.thadthoughts.com Thad

      For mapMyFitness you can configure the screen to sleep on those longer treks. I have seen the GPS issue you mentioned. I just make sure to verify it is on.

      Not 100% convinced I’ll stay with mapMyFitness, but it is a worthy contender!

  • http://frugalzeitgeist.com Forest Parks

    I put the iPhone off forever too but don’t regret my purchase. I love using runkeeper. Lose It sounds awesome but I am not sure it is easy to track calories on the kinds of food I eat. For example last nights dinner was varying amounts of 7 veggies still fried. A real pain to work out quantities of each !

    • http://www.thadthoughts.com Thad

      In situations like you describe with the vegetables, it is pretty simple to create your own food. In cases like that (where the food is not in the db) I look it up online, create a new food in LoseIt, and am good to go. Next time I have that food I find it in my LoseIt.

      RunKeeper? I’ll check it out!

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