January is a popular time to set new health and fitness goals under the pretense of New Year’s resolutions. But few people really achieve the goals that they set, since most of the time, they focus on a dramatic end result and fail to identify or complete the steps they need to take to get there.
But if you’re tech-savvy, you can use your smartphone addiction to your advantage if you’re serious about living healthier in 2016. ARC, the research arm of app quality and testing company Applause, reports that there are nearly 8,000 health and fitness apps to choose among in the Google Play Store and the iOS App Store. That’s a lot of choices. So where should you get started?
To point you in the right direction, we looked at ARC’s ranking of the best apps according to user reviews, and added a few of our favorite apps. If you’re looking for an app that’ll help you to be more active and eat healthier in the new year, here are our top picks.
1. CARROT Fit
Do you flourish with a tough love approach to coaching? Then CARROT Fit may help you toward your fitness goals in 2016. The app, which aims to be “your judgmental fitness overlord,” is part of a suite of apps that features a “sadistic A.I. construct.” CARROT Fit’s App Store description explains that the AI’s goal is “to transform your flabby carcass into a Grade A specimen of the human race. She will do whatever it takes — including threatening, inspiring, ridiculing, and bribing you — to make this happen.” The app guides you through a seven-minute workout that you can complete anywhere, at any time. The app enables you to track your progress, record your weight daily, and set goals and reminders.
2. Couch to 5K
Think that you’re too out of shape to take up running? Couch to 5K, or C25K for short, might make you reconsider. First-time runners can go from being couch potatoes to 5K runners in just eight weeks using the app on iOS or Android. The app is designed for beginners, and enables you to alternate between walking and running until you build strength. You’ll work out three times a week, ideally with breaks between the days, and each workout session is just 30 to 40 minutes long, including five minutes to warm up and five minutes to cool down. The app integrates an audio coach, and you can listen to music as you train.
3. Doctor on Demand
If being more attentive to your physical or mental health is a goal you’re prioritizing in 2016, then an app like Doctor on Demand can be an important addition to your arsenal of tools. The app, for Android and iOS, enables you to see a doctor without leaving your home instead of waiting at an urgent care clinic or in your physician’s waiting room, which can be particularly useful if you catch something contagious, like the flu. The result is an affordable and convenient doctor’s visit, whether you need a pediatrician or a psychologist.
4. Fitness Buddy
If you wish that you could hire a personal trainer to help you work on specific muscle groups as you vary your workouts throughout the week, Fitness Buddy is the next best thing. The app, available for iOS and Android, enables you to discover new exercises, learn 1,700 exercise moves, and track your workouts, body weight, body fat percentage, and body measurements. If you upgrade to the premium version of the app, you’ll also gain access to workouts tailored to your experience, goals, and the equipment you have available.
Whether the new habits you want to establish in the new year involve exercising regularly, eating more healthily, or simple fixes like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, Habitica can help you motivate yourself to make a change and stick with it. The app gamifies the establishment of new habits, with in-game rewards and punishments and a social network to keep you accountable. The app, available for iOS or Android, enables you to manage your goals for your health and fitness, while simultaneously breaking bad habits and putting an end to procrastination.
If you’ve tried a number of different classes and gyms but are still searching for the type of workout that works best for you, then you should consider trying Handstand. The app enables you to book a trainer, instructor, or coach to come to you, on your schedule, so that you can try different kinds of workouts without buying an expensive gym membership or driving all over town for inconveniently-scheduled classes. The app, available on iOS and Android, enables you to select a trainer, choose a workout spot, and make a booking.
When you have several health goals to balance, like eating better and getting into shape, it can seem overwhelming to juggle multiple apps to keep track of your progress. So an app like Lifesum can be a simpler way to achieve all of those goals. The app is available for Android and iOS and gives you the tools to adopt healthy habits by tracking the food you consume and the exercise you complete. You can lose weight, gain muscle, eat better, drink more water, and achieve better health with simple tracking tools, useful feedback, and progress reminders.
8. Lose It!
If weight loss is your primary health goal in the new year, a top-rated app geared specifically toward that goal is Lose It. The app, available on Android and iOS, helps you set a daily calorie budget and track your food and exercise, using the principles of calorie tracking and peer support to enable you lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way. The app also creates a customized weight loss plan that fits your lifestyle and takes your goals for weight loss, exercise, macronutrient intake, blood pressure, sleep, and more into account.
When you’re trying to eat better as part of a weight loss plan, or simply as a resolution to be healthier in the new year, a calorie-counting app can both keep you accountable and even increase your weight loss. MyFitnessPal‘s app enables you to easily add and log recipes, with free access to a nutrition and calorie database that includes more than 5 million foods. The calorie counter app, available on Android and iOS, is free and easy to use.
The sensors in your smartphone are pretty good at counting your steps. So if you’re primarily focused on walking to improve your health in 2016, then it’s a good idea to use an app like Pedometer Plus Plus to easily keep track of your daily and weekly step counts. The app, available only on iOS, enables you to keep track of your progress each day via the app, the Today View widget, or even the companion Apple Watch app.
Eating healthy is usually easier said than done. So having an app like ShopWell at your fingertips when you head to the grocery store can make a major difference as you attempt to establish better habits. The app, available for Android and iOS, enables you to scan barcodes at home or at the grocery store to find out if foods are a good match for your goals or your diet. If something isn’t a good match, the app will suggest alternatives, and even show you where to find them. You can create healthier shopping lists, get nutrition facts and ingredients, and find foods that match your needs and even any allergies you might have.
12. Sports Tracker
If you already have a preferred method of working out, but need a smarter way to keep track of your progress and push yourself to do more, then Sports Tracker for iOS and Android can help. The app can track running, cycling, walking, hiking, general fitness, weight loss, and other forms of training. The app also gives you access to thousands of public workouts, which enables you discover new places and identify new ways to improve your performance, whatever your fitness goals.
If you’re a dedicated runner or cyclist, you probably already have a routine figured out. But Strava can help you to compete with your friends and other users to push yourself farther. The app for Android or iOS enables you to track your rides or runs with GPS, with key statistics like distance, pace, speed, elevation gained, and calories burned. You can set your own personal records and see how you stack up against your friends, local users, and professionals. The app also enables you to participate in monthly challenges and find new places to run and ride.
14. StrongLifts 5×5
If gaining strength, building muscle, and burning fat are your fitness goals, consider StrongLifts 5×5 for iOS or Android. The app will coach you through a workout, telling you which exercise to complete, how much weight you should use, how many sets and repetitions you should perform, and how long you should rest between sets. The app adapts if you miss workouts or if your performance plateaus, and you can keep track of your progress right in the app.
If you’ve given up on previous fitness goals because you get bored doing the same thing each time you work out, Sworkit, available on Android and iOS, may be the app for you. The app offers workouts that range from five to 60 minutes, and use strength training, yoga, pilates, and stretching to get you in shape. If you upgrade to the premium version of the app, you’ll also gain access to a custom workout builder, which enables you to create and share custom routines.