By Dr. Mercola
If you have a smartphone or tablet, you've probably already mastered how to use it for helping you stay organized, keep in touch with friends and work contacts, listen to music and watch videos... but have you harnessed its ability to help keep you fit?
Technology can, in fact, be a great ally in your quest for optimal health, and one area where it excels is in apps for fitness. The great beauty of these apps is that they allow you to have personal trainers, exercise images and entire fitness programs right at your fingertips, so you can take control of your health.
Better still, the six apps that follow, highlighted in the featured article, involve using your bodyweight for strength training. This means you can strengthen and tone your muscles virtually anywhere, with no fancy exercise equipment or gym membership required.
6 Bodyweight Workout Apps
1. You are Your Own Gym ($2.99) — With over 200 video demonstrations and quick workout options, this app lets you craft a customized workout for your skill level. You can either build a workout from scratch or pick from their quick workouts, which have 81 different combinations per difficulty level.
2. 500 Bodyweight Challenge (Free) — This app has videos with exercise demonstrations along with challenges designed to, well, challenge you. For instance, one challenge will have you complete 50 jump squats in seven minutes. The user interface is clean and simple, allowing you to focus clearly on your workouts.
3. Gorilla Workout ($0.99) — Gorilla Workout, which was named the iPad Health & Fitness app of the year by Apple, has 175 different bodyweight workouts with 40+ unique exercises. You can choose from four different fitness levels along with signature workouts to get fit. Every exercise also has real-life video and text descriptions.
4. Boot Camp Challenge ($3.99) — Get lean, strong and fit with Boot Camp Challenge. It features over 200 exercises and beginner to advanced routines. Plus, it has beat-sync technology, which means it will match the tempo of your music to your workout.
5. Fitness Trainer HD ($1.99) — With over 450 exercises (more than 10 of which are bodyweight or home-based), Fitness Trainer HD has a workout for everyone. Each exercise has video and photo instructions, along with how-to tips.
6. Sworkit Pro (Free) — This app provides randomized circuit training workouts that you can do anywhere. You choose the length of your workout and the area of your body you want to focus on (such as upper body, core, cardio, full body or stretching), and Sworkit designs a customized routine instantly.
Four More of My Favorite Fitness AppsMany of you know that I have a passion for technology in addition to health, so health apps, which combine the two, are invaluable to a "gadget geek" like me. I have scanned many thousands of articles and downloaded several hundred applications, and the app suggestions that follow are among those I consider to be quite valuable.
1. MyFitnessPal — By far one of my favorite apps, this free app lets you track your activity and food/caloric intake using an activity log and food diary. The food calorie portion is one of the best pieces of software out there to record and keep track of your food macronutrients. I use this app nearly every day to record my food intake and help me keep track of my macronutrient ratios. It's an incredibly easy way to monitor your food intake without a lot of fuss.
MyFitnessPal has an easy to use interface that allows you to access about 1 million food items in its database, plus you can also add your own foods and recipes at any time and access them from anywhere with an Internet connection. Once you enter new food nutritional information, it will be there for you the next time you need it.
I really love this app as it quickly and easily allows you to see the number of grams of carbs, fats and protein you're eating. I consider myself fairly sophisticated nutritionally, but I was really shocked when I found out what the actual numbers were. This is a very powerful tool and best of all it is free.
2. Fitness Builder — For keeping track of your workouts this is my favorite app. I don't use MyFitnessPal to record my workouts, I use this app. There are loads of exercise applications on the Net but Fitness Builder, in my experience, is the most comprehensive fitness database in the world.
It contains the largest library of exercise images and videos, the most challenging workouts across all disciplines, access to a live personal trainer and a complete set of every fitness tool, and a calculator and tracking features are available. Most all of the apps I have are free, but this one costs $10 for the base version and it is worth every penny if you use it, as it helps you keep incredible records for your workouts.
3. Nike+ Running and RunKeeper — If you love running or jogging, these apps let you map out runs, monitor your distance and speed, and even track calories burned. It will even track your location as you run using GPS, and lets you share goals and run information with those on your social networks. RunKeeper also lets you keep and compare activity stats, set goals and offers customizable training plans and voice coaching.
4. Endomondo Sports Tracker — Another free app, this one is like having your very own personal trainer available at your fingertips. Along with the "usual" ability to track your heart rate, calories, speed, and distance during a workout, a built in GPS tracks your route on a map.
Plus, when you enter your goals, an audio coach will give you feedback while you exercising to keep you motivated, and you can also share your workouts with friends and even track the workouts of your friends in real time.
A Word About Cell Phone Safety
Some of you may be wondering why I'm writing an article about apps for a smartphone or tablet, when I've previously written about the dangers of wireless technology. Cell phone use has been found to alter your brain, contribute to tumor development and cause numerous other health problems, and for this reason I suggest you limit your use of these devices, especially when it involves holding the device near your head or storing it near any other bodily area.
That said, when using fitness apps, the phone or tablet can be kept in airplane mode to minimize any wireless EMF exposure and you can still access the amazing computer power. Remember your smartphone is more powerful than the fastest supercomputer in the world when I purchased my first computer in 1985.
Last year, for the first time ever, people in the US spent more time on mobile apps than they did on the Internet.1 The Internet is being progressively relegated to a background infrastructure that allows people to access data through apps with an elegant user interface. This is shockingly remarkable when you consider that mobile apps have only been around for several years, but it's also indicative of a technology that's likely here to stay.
You can certainly get fit without a smartphone. But many of you reading this already have and use smartphones and tablets. What you may not have access to is a gym, personal trainer or any type of exercise equipment. For little or no cost, you can access countless workouts via these apps, allowing you to get a fabulous workout you may not have otherwise had, which is one of the most productive, and least dangerous, uses for these devices.
So the purpose of sharing these apps is to help you harness technology (technology that most of you are likely already using) in a positive way that can change your health for the better when used in this manner. For more information, please see my guidelines for safe cell phone use.