Depending on where you are in the country, summer is over. Well, it’s technically still summer, but some of us are already wearing our goddamn down parkas. Needless to say, we’re all looking ahead to a long winter of ordering delivery wings and becoming one with the couch. Wouldn’t it be nice to get through the rest of the year without packing on pounds?
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Instead of paying for an overpriced gym membership or Shake Weight, there are more effective alternatives right at your fingertips. Literally. While there’s no shortage of fitness apps available for your smartphone and tablet, most are convoluted and hard to stick with over a long period of time. That doesn’t bode well for your lofty (but totally achievable) fitness goals.
So here are seven simple but extremely useful apps—and one smart scale with its own app—to get you healthy and fit.
For counting calories
Counting calories can be the most obnoxious thing, but it’s worth doing for a few weeks to better understand your eating habits and the amount you’re actually consuming. MyFitnessPal, a crowd favorite, has a database that includes over 3.8 million kinds of food, so you’re virtually covered when it comes to logging what you eat. It even approximates the number of calories burned for different kinds of exercise, like jazzercising and throwing darts!
For tracking steps and running
An easy way to get back into some semblance of being in shape is to increase the number of steps you take a day. The American Heart Association and Surgeon General recommend 10,000 steps or roughly 30 minutes of activity a day. You’d be surprised how sedentary we’ve become. Runkeeper stores your past ambling to create a specific daily steps goal and even sends audio encouragement to ensure you meet your target. If you’re looking for something to map your walk, run, or cycling excursion, then this is right up your alley.
For better sleep
There are three key components to living a healthier life: diet, exercise, and sleep. Believe it or not, sleep impacts what and when you eat, and whether or not you exercise. Sleeptracker 24/7 from MotionX not only tracks and analyzes your sleep habits by measuring the amount you fidget while you slumber, but also measures your heart rate and wakes you up at just the right time. There’s even a white noise generator to help you fall asleep.
iTunes Download for $0.99
For 7-minute workouts
Now that you’re high-stepping, sleeping better, and eating smarter, it’s time to start bulking up or trimming down. But you don’t need to hit the gym for hours when seven minutes will do. No, really. Science has proven that it works. Watch videos of each movement on Quick Fit—whether it’s cardio, ab exercises, or yoga—track your progress, and get ripped if you keep with it.
iTunes Download for free
For personal training
For those of you who can’t self-motivate, sign up for a personal training service so a professional can do the motivating for you. Ladder bridges the gap between you and a trainer, so they can build you workouts that fit your schedule and capabilities, in your own home, and far from an expensive gym. You can also text your trainer through the app to get guidance on certain moves (or beg for leniency). You’ll have to pay for the service, though.
iTunes Download for free; coaching starts at $15.99/month
My Water Balance
For hydration tracking
Whether you’re a tea, Red Bull, or wine drinker, you might not understand the impact staying hydrated has on your body. Hint: It’s a big one. My Water Balance lets you log all the different beverages you drink on a daily basis, giving you fluid intake recommendations based on how active you are, where you live, and more. It’ll remind you when to throw back a glass of water throughout the day, too. Moral of the story: Your body is probably thirsty for water, and you should be drinking more of it.
Stop, Breathe & Think
For meditation and breathing
Mental health is important, folks! Take a minute from freaking out about work, family, and yeah, getting ripped, to literally stop, breathe, and think. Answer a survey about your mood and plug into exercises that give your brain what it needs to slow down. Not only can this app quell your anxiety and calm your stress, but research has shown that mindfulness in general can have a positive impact on your fitness goals.
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Withings Smart Body+ Scale
For some extra help
If you’re really getting serious, you might want to pick up Withings Smart Body+ Scale. Its app syncs with the more than 100 other health apps, including MyFitnessPal and Runkeeper. It tracks trends in your muscle mass, bone mass, water, and more. It even publicly shames you by tweeting your weight out, if that’s your thing.