The Best Free Fitness and Health Apps


As I'm trying to live more frugally and spend money more intentionally, I've decided that one of the things I'm not planning to throw money toward is exercise. Between exercise videos on YouTube (shout out, in particular to Yoga with Adrienne) and checking out exercise DVDs from the library, I'm pretty well covered, with the exception of a few things like running and health data tracking. Enter health/fitness apps. They make exercise and eating right easy and almost like a game AND they make for an affordable alternative to belonging to a gym/healthclub. Below you’ll find a list of the ten best free fitness and health apps and what I use them for!



Cardio

Daily Cardio Workout - Free  - Daily Cardio Workout is exactly what it sounds like! It give you 5-10 minute bouts of cardio (that you can repeat for as many reps as you want!) and guides you through one of two workouts. This may seem too repetitive for some, but for me a short cardio workout to do from home in the morning or after work - just to get a little physical activity in - is exactly what I need. The workouts combine things like squat jacks and mountain climber hops for twists on some familiar exercises and each transition includes a video of the move, what muscle groups it’s working, and step by step instructions to maximize impact and reduce chance of injury.

Runkeeper - I got turned on to Runkeeper by Gretchen at GretchRuns a few weeks ago and it has completely changed the way I run! Not only does it have a mapping/GPS feature so you can see where you’ve run, how far and at what pace, but one of the things I love about Runkeeper is that you can specialize your workout based on what you’re looking to do. Looking to just get out there and run? Use their “free run” setting. Interested in getting a certain distance under your belt? What about a certain pace? Or total amount of running time? You can set all of that with Runkeeper. You can set fitness goals, create a custom training plan, join challenges and more! No matter your experience as a runner, this is an awesome app.

Pro Metronome + IntervalTimer - my best friend taught me to use these two apps when I first started running. Having Pro Metronome ticking in my ear - particularly when I first started running - was a great way to keep me on track with my pace and make sure I was taking smaller steps and not injuring myself. What a great edition to my fitness routine! The IntervalTimer is great whether you’re an experienced or beginning runner if you’re doing any kind of interval training. For me, I like to set run/walk intervals (with the walk intervals getting shorter the longer I train), but you could also use it for run/sprint intervals if you’re at that level. You can have it running in the background with lots of other apps as well which is really nice.

Yoga

Simply Yoga - Free - Simply Yoga is by the same people who make Daily Cardio Workout (see above), so the premise is very similar. Here though, you can choose between 20, 40, and 60 minute yoga workouts. As with Daily Cardio Workout you get video demonstrations of each pose. These sequences have you move from tadasana (mountain pose) through sun salutations and many other poses, finally ending in savasana (corpse pose). Experienced practitioners may find this app a bit beginner for their taste, but for anyone who is a more casual practitioner, like me, this is the perfect app.

Daily Yoga - One of the things I really enjoy about the Daily Yoga app is the pose library. There’s not a lot of workout options that you can do without upgrading to pro, but if you’ve ever been in a yoga class and thought “what the heck is pigeon??” this is a great use of this app. With high quality photos and step by step instructions and helpful tips for each pose you can bring your practice to the next level.

Cross Training

Sworkit - No Gym. No Excuse. That’s Sworkit’s motto. I use Sworkit primarily for strength training, but they also have sections for cardio, yoga, and stretching making it the best “all in one” app on this list! I love that you can select a workout type (for example, core strength) and select a custom workout length (say 20 minutes) and then it guides you through the workout step by step with built in transitions. They even have “Sworkout” music playlists in Spotify based on the workout you’ve selected, which I love! If I had to wholeheartedly recommend any app on this list, this one would be it.

Overall Wellness

My Fitness Pal - My Fitness Pal is billed as a calorie counter and diet tracker but it is so much more than that! You can link it to a number of other apps - I link mine to my Fitbit app - and add common recipes that you cook often. What I use it for primarily is the “diary” function for food tracking. You can also track your weight - if that’s important to you - and even post photos of yourself at different “milestones.”

Pillow - I use Pillow every night to track my sleep. It functions as a sleep/wake tracker, alarm clock, and even a sound recorder (if you're someone who's always wondered if they snore) and has totally transformed the way I think about sleep. One of the things I love about it is that it shows me when during the night I was in REM, light sleep, and deep sleep which really helps me figure out my patterns and compare sleep quality from day to day. Sleep is such an important part of overall wellness and I so appreciate this app for helping me keep better track of mine.

Apple Health - For you iPhone users out there, Apple Health is actually a surprisingly robust “included” app that comes with your iPhone. It’s a combination pedometer and health data tracker. You can track everything from body measurements to menstruation cycles to sleep. One of the little known facts about Apple Health that if you haven’t done yet you should do now is to set up your Medical ID information. The Medical ID info can be accessed by healthcare providers from your lock screen if there were ever a medical emergency and includes things like medication allergies, emergency contact, and blood type. If you decide to do only one thing after reading this, it should be that.



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