Free tools to get you organized, motivated, and fit!
Smartphone apps can either be another distraction that squeezes fitness out of your schedule, or they can help you track progress, connect with likeminded friends, and stay motivated to get in shape. Here are a few of the cheapest, highest-quality cardio tools on the market for Android and iPhone.
1. Instant Heart Rate (iOS, Android)
Most fitness apps are “personal trainer” tools of varying usefulness (we’ll talk about a few of the best here), but this app is just a great diagnostic tool to measure your progress. Just like the little fingertip clip they use at the doctor’s office, this app measures your heart rate by using your phone’s camera to detect tiny, rhythmic color changes in your skin. Check your resting heart rate for insight into your overall fitness, or check your active heart rate during a workout to make sure you’re hitting your desired intensity. This can be an especially helpful tool if you have health constraints that make it important to monitor your heart rate. (Cost: free for Android, $0.99 for iPhone)
2. Endomondo Sports Tracker (iOS, Android)
Endomondo is a great cardio tracker for people who like social workouts and competition. Like most cardio trackers, it monitors your distance traveled, average speed, top speed, longest sustained run, etc. but it really shines when you get three or four friends together to compete on the same route. It’s great if you want to have workout buddies, but have a hard time coordinating schedules. Your friends can log their individual best times on your chosen route, and whoever is fastest becomes “Champion” of that route—sort of like Foursquare. Endomondo also has neat features like an audio coach that offers encouragement when you approach personal bests, and detailed history of all your stats over time, so you can watch as your speed and endurance increase. (Cost: free)
3. Daniel Miller’s Daily Cardio Workout (iOS, Android)
Most of the options we’ll discuss in this post are for people with the time and motivation for intense cardio training, and who just want to break out of a plateau or try new tools. If you’re inexperienced, pressed for time, or having a hard time building good workout habits, these workout videos are a great way to get started. They only take ten minutes, and they help get your blood moving without being too rough on a beginner. The app is fairly simple—you can select workouts to target trouble spots, or just play a random workout to mix things up. If you’ve already cultivated good fitness habits, this app might be a good option for busy days or as a break from more intense training. This app requires a decent display size, so it works best with a Samsung Galaxy from T-Mobile or similar phone. (Cost: $0.99)
4. Noom Cardio Trainer (Android)
If you like to take a statistical and scientific approach to your fitness, Noom is a great pick. Like Endomondo, it tracks basic stats and allows for friendly competition, but it arguably does a better job of measuring progress and performance over time. You can set weight loss, speed, or endurance goals, and Noom will show you a bar that slowly fills as you run for longer uninterrupted periods of time, lose a given amount of weight, or increase your average speed. It also has some nutrition-tracking functionality, which takes some of the mystery out of weight loss—you tell it how many calories you’re eating, and it will track your cardio workouts and tell you how quickly you should expect to shed the weight. It also has support for connecting your smartphone to a heart rate meter, so you can get even more detailed stats from each workout. (Cost: free)
For more great fitness app ideas check out Fitness Dame’s favs: Fitness on the Go: There’s an App for That
GUEST BLOGGER, Julia Peterson is a writer for AndGeeks.com, a popular website that provides up-to-date news, detailed commentary, and unbiased reviews on cell phones and related topics. Julia resides in Galveston, Texas in a cozy little house in the country with her husband, young son, and their Labrador retriever, Darby.