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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

5 Apps That Help You Lose Weight And Get Fit. No 4 is...Awesome

Resolutions are hard to keep and living a healthy lifestyle can be even harder. With the demands of work, raising a family and other obstacles we are met with, it's just too much of a hassle for most people to count calories, make healthy food choices and get to the gym a couple of times a week.

Luckily, tech as makes it easier than ever to stick with your fitness goals. From goal-specific apps to wearable devices, here are some of the best tools to help you lose weigh and maintain a healthy lifestyle:

*The best fitness apps

There are many apps for iOS and Android that turn any phone or tablet into a personal trainer that can help you shed those extra pounds (i mean those fats).
But first, let's talk food. There's an old saying: perfect abs aren't made in the gym, but are cooked up in the kitchen. Lifting weights and cardio are important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but eating right is just as, if not more, beneficial as working out.

1. Calorie-tracking apps

 

There are hundreds of food-tracking apps out there, but one of my best is MyFitnessPal, an app that simplifies the process of counting calories. MyFitnessPal is free and available on iOS,Android and even Windows Phone.
You'll start by telling the app about your weight, goal weight, gender, height, birth date and daily activity level. Then, the app will calculate how many calories you should eat each day. wow is that great.
Now it's time to put in the work and log your meals. Food can be entered in manually, chosen from a user-generated catalog of more than five million items or even scanned with your smartphone's camera. You can even set reminders to ensure that you never miss logging a meal. The app can also connect with many popular fitness trackers from Fitbit, Garmin, Withings and others.
MyFitnessPal is just one of the many calorie-tracking applications available for mobile devices. I've been using the app for years and am accustomed to its interface, which is why I recommend it. One of my colleagues has been a loyal Lose It! user for years. The free version for both apps offer similar features, although Lose It does include a cool feature that can analyze a photo and automatically log the meal.

2. Run-tracking apps

 

 This app can keep you motivated, track your progress and even offer guidance If running is your go-to choice for exercise, it's essential to keep track of your workouts .
Apps like Strava, RunKeeper, Nike+ Run Club, MapMyRun and Runtastic can be helpful for runners with years of experience and newcomers alike. All of these apps use the GPS in your phone to track your pace, distance, elapsed time and calories burned. They can also give you vocal updates about your pace and speed after you reach a certain distance.Here are some apps and their unique features:
  • RunKeeper allows you to set workout reminders.
  • Runtastic has a "Story Mode" feature to make runs more entertaining.
  • Nike+ Run Club hosts numerous challenges that puts you head-to-head (virtually) against other members of the app's growing community.
Strava is my personal favorite because it's not just a training app, but also a sort of social network for athletes. You can follow others, post pictures, and like and comment on workouts. The app also lets you compete with friends and strangers. Strava lets you import data from just about every other platform and device, including Garmin, Fitbit, Polar, TomTom, Nike and others.
Nike+ Run Club is available for free on Android and iOS. Strava, RunKeeper, Runtastic, and MapMyRun are available in free and paid versions; all four also offer monthly/yearly subscriptions for premium features.

3. Guided workouts for non-runners

 

 There are dozens of apps that offer guided workouts and coaching. The best part? Many of these apps are free You don't need to sign up for a gym to get in shape. 
The Nike+ Training Club app is one of my favorites. It offers more than 100 free guided workout videos for beginners all the way up to seasoned vets. The app also offers four-week training programs at a variety of fitness levels for getting lean, more toned, or stronger. Nike Training Club is available for free on Android and iOS.
Another option is Fitstar, a free and paid workout platform owned by Fitbit that offers guided video workouts and customized fitness plans. The app was recently revamped to include hundreds of new workout videos and integration with Fitbit trackers.
You can do the basics for free, but a premium Fitstar membership, which gives you access to unlimited personalized workouts, is priced at $8 a month or $40 a year.

* Fitness trackers

There are literally hundreds of wearable out there that help take the work out of tracking your fitness.

4. Activity trackers

Activity trackers are becoming smarter, more accurate, easier to use and (at least in some cases) more affordable. Almost all of these trackers can track things like steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned and sleep. A majority of them will even measure heart rate and display notifications from a smartphone
You can even set goals to encourage to you walk 10,000 steps per day (or more). A fitness tracker is appealing to someone that wants a little extra motivation to get up and move. I recommend a Fitbit (either the Charge 2, Flex 2 or Blaze) due to the social aspect. The app, which has the largest user-base, lets you compete with friends, family member and others in daily and weekly competitions.
  • The Fitbit Charge 2 will track steps, distance, calories burned, active minutes, floors climbed, heart-rate and sleep. It can also display incoming calls, text messages and calendar alerts from your iPhone or Android phone.
  • The Fitbit Flex 2 is the company's only swimproof tracker. The Flex 2 can measure steps, distance, calories burned, active minutes and sleep. There's no heart rate sensor, and it doesn't measure floors climbed. It also lacks a display and instead relies on five small LED lights to notify you to calls, text messages and calendar alerts.
  • The Fitbit Blaze is the company's sort-of smartwatch. It can display all notifications from an iPhone or Android phone, but it doesn't run any apps on the watch itself. As for its tracking features, the Blaze can measure steps, distance, calories burned, active minutes, floors climbed, heart rate and sleep.
You can test out the Fitbit app (and start competing with friends) by using your iPhone or Android device and Fitbit app to track your steps, but for sleep and other metrics, you will need to buy a tracker.

 5. GPS running watches

For runners, I recommend a GPS watch, which lets you accurately measure pace and distance without requiring you to run with your phone. Here are some of my favorites:
  • The Garmin Forerunner 235 is my current favorite. It can show notifications from your phone, track daily activities like steps, distance and calories, and includes an optical heart-rate sensor, in addition to a GPS chip. It also includes a built-in interval feature to track your speed workouts.
  • The Garmin Forerunner 735XT has all of the features of the 235, but adds additional sport profiles like biking, hiking, swimming, paddle boarding and more. It even includes a triathlon mode that will measure transition time and change sports with a single button press.
  • The Garmin Vivoactive HR is good for people who want a watch that can track multiple sports and activities, but don't have plans to compete in a triathlon
Many of these running watches include smart features that can display notifications from your phone to your wrist. They aren't full-blown smartwatches, however, and can't run an app like Uber. If you are more interested in a smartwatch, check out the Apple Watch Series 2 or Apple Watch Nike Edition.

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