Healthy Apps for Your Workout Tracker

Workout trackers that you wear on your wrist or arm can completely overhaul your exercise routine. They make you more aware of when you move and inspire you to keep stepping it up. Combine your device with the right app and you may see even more results.

Apps With Food Diaries

Most people who lose weight and keep it off use food diaries. Just the act of logging what you eat inspires you to eat healthier. You’ll take your weight loss efforts to a new level when you pair a food tracker with your fitness device.

Some devices, like those from Fitbit, Larklife, and Jawbone, have a way to track what you eat on their own web sites or apps. Most of the ones that don't have their own food trackers sync with apps that do. Even the devices with their own food tracking often sync with apps that allow you to see more details about nutrition.

One benefit of devices sharing data is that when your food tracker "learns" how many calories you've burned from exercise, it may be able to adjust your calorie limit for the day.

Many food-tracking apps are free, while some have one-time or monthly fees. Each app typically also has a web site. Popular food trackers include:

  • Lose It! is dedicated to weight management. It suggests eating plans based on how many pounds you want to lose for a week and projects a date when you'll reach your goal weight.

Other features include a breakdown to show how well your day's food choices meet the MyPlate USDA guidelines.

Lose It! also has a barcode scanner to show you the nutrients and portion sizes of packaged foods.

Cost: Basic app and site are free.

An annual fee of $39.99 per year is required to sync it with most devices. For that, you get extra tracking and tools, and the ability to set up goals related to exercise, blood pressure, blood sugar, nutrition, sleep, and measurements.

Syncs with: BodyMedia Fit, Fitbit (Flex, Force, One, Ultra, and Zip), Jawbone (Up and Up Pro), Nike + FuelBand (1.0 and SE), and Withings Pulse

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Also syncs with these scales: Fitbit Aria and Withings

  • MyFitnessPal is for exercise and food logging. It's popular because of its huge database of foods and its supportive community.

Cost: Free

Syncs with: BodyMedia Fit, Fitbit (Flex, Force, One, Ultra, and Zip), Fitbug Air Tracker, Jawbone (Up and Up Pro), and Withings Pulse

Also syncs with these scales: Fitbit Aria, iHealth Wireless Scales, Withings

  • MyNetDiary allows you to plan and track carbs and fat, blood sugar, blood pressure, and medications with custom trackers.

Cost: Free

Syncs with: Fitbit (Flex, Force, One, Ultra, and Zip), Jawbone (Up and Up Pro), Nike + Fuelband (1.0 and SE), and Withings Pulse

Also syncs with these scales: Fitbit Aria, Withings

  • SparkPeople offers a personalized meal plan to help you meet your fitness goal. It has a massive community where people share tips, encouragement, and recipes.

It also has a barcode scanner for packaged food.

Cost: Basic app and services are free; for a fee, you can get more recipes or a SparkCoach.

Syncs with: BodyMedia Fit and Fitbit (Flex, Force, One, Ultra, and Zip)

Also syncs with this scale: Fitbit Aria

Workout Apps

While your fitness tracker can record basic steps and miles, other apps help with exercises that are more specific.

If you want to learn yoga or start a strength training routine, there are apps for that.

Some apps let you plan runs, hikes, or bike rides, and then track your progress using the GPS on your phone.

  • Endomondo is for sports that involve distance: cycling, kayaking, running, skating, or skiing. It features a large community of like-minded people. Friends can follow you live and write you pep talks during your workout.

Cost: Many features are free; a premium version includes heart-rate zones, weather reports, and other features at $3.99 per month for new subscribers.

Syncs with: Fitbit (Flex, Force, One, Ultra, and Zip), and Withings Pulse

  • MapMyFitness allows you to map your route and includes a food log. It has individual programs, too: MapMyRun, MapMyHike, MapMyRide, and MapMyWalk.

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Cost: $5.99 per month

Syncs with: Jawbone Up. (The information you have on your Fitbit will transfer to the MapMyFitness app when you sync them. But the information exchange only goes in one direction; the data you have on MapMyFitness does not sync to your Fitbit.)

  • RunKeeper tracks runs using your phone's GPS. It features a stride-rate chart that shows how your stride changes when you walk or run. The app also allows you to set fitness goals and offers free coaching.

Cost: Free, plus in-app upgrades at various prices

Syncs with: BodyMedia Fit, Jawbone Up, and Withings Pulse

Other apps use incentives to keep you moving.

  • Everymove and Earndit offer prizes and rewards for being active.

Cost: Free

Both sync with: Fitbit (Flex, Force, One, Ultra, and Zip), and BodyMedia Fit

  • Gympact rewards you with cash for exercising or checking in at the gym. It charges you if you don't.

Cost: Free

Syncs with: Jawbone Up

  • Beeminder inspires you to keep your fitness goals by charging you if you don't meet them.

Cost: Free until you don't meet your goals for the day. Then, you have to pledge $5 that you'll get back on track. If you don't, you pay the $5 every time you go off track. The amount goes up over time.

Syncs with: Fitbit (Flex, Force, One, Ultra, and Zip), Jawbone Up, and Withings Pulse

Apps for Sleep

People who don't get enough sleep are more likely to gain weight, studies show.

Many fitness devices track sleep and can improve your sleep habits. If yours doesn't, you can use an app to sync with your device.

Popular apps include:

  • Sleep Debt helps you get to bed on time so you can catch up on missed sleep.

Syncs with: Fitbit (all devices except Zip)

  • Sleepio offers a weekly course package or a 6-week course that teaches you ways to improve your sleep.

Cost: $80 for 12 weeks of access

Syncs with: BodyMedia Fit, Jawbone Up (1.0 and SE)

  • SleepBot and Sleep Cycle are not apps and don't sync with your device. Instead, they track your sleep cycles via your cell phone. They also work as alarm clocks, waking you up during a light sleep cycle so you'll feel less groggy. SleepBot and Sleep as Androidalso record your snoring.

Cost: Sleep Cycle $0.99; other two are free.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on December 26, 2015

Sources

SOURCES:

Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD, spokeswoman, American Council on Exercise. 

Jawbone: "Setting Alarm and Alerts."

Larklife product page: "Active Breaks" in "Move" section.

FitBit Flex: "Managing silent alarms with Flex."

Laptop Mag: "Fitbit Flex Review."

PC Magazine: "Misfit Shine review."

Nike+: "Syncing your Nike+ Fuelband to Lose It!"

Redmond Pie: "Nike+ Move App for iPhone 5s Released, FuelBand App Updated With New UI and SE Features."

FitBit: "FitBit App Gallery."

Jawbone UP product page.

MyNetDiary: "MyNetDiary Diabetes Tracker app," "BG Monitor Integration Being Investigated."

BodyMedia: "Third Party Apps," "Telcare."

Workout Trainer product page.

LoseIt! Blog: "Reports and Motivators."

Google Play: "Sleep as Android."

SparkPeople: "Sync Your Fitness Device with SparkPeople."

TechCrunch: "The Ultimate Guide to the 50+ Hottest Health and Fitness Apps, Gadgets and Startups of the Year."

Lifehacker.com: "Five Best Food and Nutrition Tracking Tools."

iTunes Apps: "Sleep Cycle alarm clock."

Google play: "SleepBot-Sleep Cycle Alarm."

Wearable App Review: "Sleep Debt."

MyNetDiary: Home, MyNetDiary and Fitbit -- Integrate Your Diet and Exercise.

Beeminder FAQ.

Withings.

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