Getting into shape, or staying there, isn’t easy. Fortunately, as the saying goes, there’s an app for that. Check out these five great fitness apps that’ll help keep you motivated and moving in the right direction this winter.

For many of us, exercise and winter are two words that definitely don’t go hand in hand. When it’s cold and dark, snuggling under warm blankets and hitting the snooze button makes much more sense than getting up and going for a run. Come to think of it, so does tucking into hearty stews and piling on the pounds, while comfortably observing the outside world through a window. In short, any motivation we can get to drag ourselves off the couch during the colder months and start moving is a good thing.

This is where mobile fitness apps come in. Conveniently loaded onto our phones, they’re with us 24/7 and provide subtle motivational prompts to get us off our butts, when we need them most. They all track fitness levels, some provide nutritional advice, while others even put a virtual coach into our pocket – making them ideal tools for those of us trying to lose weight, walk more steps each day, or push ourselves through brutal morning workouts.

That said, here are 5 great free fitness apps available for your Android or iOS device. We reckon these will help keep you motivated and moving this winter.

MapMyRun
Download for Android
Download for iOS
Website: www.mapmyfitness.com

This fitness app allows you to track and map over 600 types of workouts, including running, walking, cycling, gym workouts, cross-training, yoga, you name it. It delivers customisable voice feedback for stats like pace, route distance, calories and elevation. You can find nearby places to run, save your favourite paths, add new ones, and share them with others. Plus, if you add your running shoes and track mileage to Gear Tracker, It’ll even notify you when it’s time to purchase a new pair (to avoid injuries).

You can also track GPS-based workouts, or connect and import data from over 400 other activity tracking apps and devices on the market, including Android Wear, Google Fit, Garmin, Fitbit, and Jaw. Just as importantly, you get access to a massive community of runners over 40 million strong, where you can share tips, motivation, and your own journey with pros and beginners alike.

Strava
Download for Android
Download for iOS

Website: www.strava.com

If you don’t know Strava, either you don’t exercise much, or you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years. This popular app has the entire running and cycling world talking – so much so, that if your amazing performance from last weekend doesn’t appear on Strava, then as far as many competitors are concerned, it didn’t happen!

What it does is let you ride or run against everyone else who’s signed up – so you’re effectively competing in a global field totalling millions. You use it to track your runs and rides, while other Strava members do the same. The app then collects everyone’s routes and times, breaks them into segments, and then tells the sporting world who has the best time along different stretches of road and trail. Trust me, if you are the fastest, everyone else using Strava around you will know it.

While you’re busy working up a sweat, it provides key stats such as distance, pace, speed, elevation gained and calories burned. And, once you’re done, you get an interactive map of your activity that you can share. You can participate in monthly challenges designed to push you further. Plus, if you’re using any Garmin fitness watch with a built-in GPS, you can upload an entire Strava activity automatically via the Garmin Connect app, without having to touch your phone.

C25K – 5K Running Trainer
Download for Android
Download for iOS
Website: www.c25kfree.com

The proven C25K (Couch to 5K) program was designed specifically for inexperienced runners just starting out – making it a great training partner for newbies considering entering the many Park Runs taking place around the country. The plan’s structure prevents new runners from giving up and, at the same time, challenges them to keep moving forward. What makes C25K so successful is that it starts with a mix of running and walking, gradually building up your strength and stamina until you can manage an entire 5 km run.

The app promises that if you just put in 30 minutes of effort each day, three times a week, it’ll have you up and running 5 km in eight weeks. And its simple, intuitive interface makes it easy for beginners to use. You can also track your calories and distance covered for each workout, add a compatible pedometer, listen to music playlists while you train and share your experience on social media.

MyFitnessPal
Download for Android
Download for iOS
Website: www.myfitnesspal.com

Winter is the season for rich, hearty food, so not working out during the colder months can have a huge impact on your weight. Fortunately, whether you just want to lose weight, tone up, get healthy, change your habits, or start a new diet – this app has you covered.

When starting out, you first need to enter all the usual stats; your height, weight, age, sex, and activity level. Based on that data, MyFitnessPal then guesses how many calories your body burns throughout a typical day, with no additional exercise. Next, you tell it whether you’re trying to lose, maintain, or gain weight, and the app walks you through the various screens – allowing you to select exactly how aggressively you want to pursue your goal. It then provides a recommended calorie goal for each day.

To get the most out of this app, it’s best to log all the activities you get up to – including walks, runs, swims and bike rides – along with what you eat. Alternately, you can just connect MyFitnessPal to an activity tracker, such as Garmin’s Vivomove. And, the more exercise you do, the higher your recommended calorie intake for the day will be.

Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout
Download for Android
Download for iOS
Website: 7minuteworkout.jnj.com

The Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout app is, according to its developers, a science-based way to work out anywhere, anytime. It comprises 36 exercises and 19 workouts that you can mix up to create over 1 000 variations – ranging from easy to hard. All you really need is a chair and seven minutes. However, if you include warming up and cooling down periods, you should be thinking 11 minutes in total.

A medium-intensity workout could include star jumps, push-ups, high-knee running on the spot, crunches, triceps dips using a chair, and a good few more. A timer, in the form of a circle with an outline that fills in bit by bit, functions as a visual aid so you know how much longer you have to keep going. The app also uses videos to coach you through each move as they come up in the workout – making it a great home or office exercise app for people of all abilities and fitness levels.

And, despite its name, this app includes more exercise options than just the seven-minute quickie. Other routines include a Beginner 9 Minute Workout, The 21 Minute Cardio Blast and a Core Workout. – (c) 2017 NavWorld

About The Author

Sean Woods

Originally a photographer for the Star newspaper in the bad old days, Sean Woods turned to writing after the first democratic elections in '94. The career shift paid serious dividends, culminating in him becoming associate editor for Popular Mechanics magazine with a number of technology writing awards under his belt. His interests include anything to do with boats, motorcycles and all those fancy tech gadgets that help the modern world go around.

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