Let's talk about apps!

Using my phone to help with fitness is a tool I can't imagine going without these days. Sure, I did it once upon a time... but now it's just so much more convenient and helpful to have everything at my fingertips. Want to know if an unplanned meal out will put me over my calories? Curious as to how much I walked throughout the day? Want to run away from zombie hordes? Yep, there's an app for that! Let's go over my top five fitness apps, because I've used a lot throughout the years.

-SparkPeople. If you've been around for a while, you know I love SparkPeople. If you haven't... well, now you will. SparkPeople is a free site and app where you can track your food, fitness, weight, and all that other fun stuff. But that's not all it is! There are thousands of articles tackling fitness, diet, motivation, misconceptions, and every other subject under the health sun. It has a strong community section, where you can join groups and teams based on your location, challenges, goals, or hobbies. There are hundreds of free workout videos, across all three focuses (cardio, strength training, and flexibility). And millions of recipes to help you find a healthy alternative to your usual fare. There are plenty of apps and sites to track your food and fitness, but rarely have I seen any that even attempt this much additional content. I've been using SparkPeople for ten years now and I love it. And did I mention it's all free? (There's a paid option to support the site, but you can access all of the above for free!) Get it here.

-Zombies, Run! This is my favorite fitness app. It's a running/walking app that tracks your speed, distance, etc. but it's also a podcast-like story. There are now six seasons (sixth just launched!) and it's one of my favorite zombie stories ever. You are the main character, a runner for a refugee camp. As Runner 5, you go out to gather supplies and information, while you're also trying to figure out how the zombie apocalypse started and who's loyal to the camp and not. Oh yeah, and the zombies actually chase you during missions and can catch you! And the supplies you gather? You use those to build up and fortify your base in the app, which can get attacked between missions. That's right, it's a fitness app, story, and a game, all in one! Highly recommended for us nerds trying to get fit. The only downside is that it's not cheap (like... at all, for an app) but it's well worth it, IMO. (Interested but the price holding you back? They frequently have sales!) Oh, and they also have a 5K training app that acts as a prequel to the story, which is perfect for beginners! Get it here.

-RunKeeper. A fitness app that tracks your runs, walks, and bike rides. I use it in conjunction with Zombies, Run! because it gives me more information, and has more varied training plans. MapMyFitness (/Walk/Ride/etc.) is basically the same, and it comes down to preferences, but I've always preferred the easy to read stats that RunKeeper gives me. Get it here.

-Moves. I think this is Android only, but I'm sure there's an equivalent for iPhones. It's a basic pedometer app that tracks steps and distances for walking, running, and biking. Anyone else remember the days we hooked a little plastic step calculator to our hips? This is a better version of that. It runs in the background all day and doesn't drain your battery or anything. Get it here.

-Pact (GymPact). This is last, because I don't recommend it for people just starting out, but rather those who have already gotten into a routine. Basically, you set a pact that you will work out so many days a week (3 minimum), either by going to a gym/yoga studio/fitness center or using one of their approved fitness apps (hint: RunKeeper and Moves are both there). You put $5 or $10 on the line for every day you say you're going to work out. If you work out all those days, great! You get paid from the people who didn't. If you didn't, you pay. That's why I only recommend it for people who have already gotten in the habit, but I've made over $100 from it before. Hey, not bad to get a bit back from my gym memership! (Dietbet is along the same lines, except you commit to losing so much weight in so much time. I've personally never done that one. I'd rather focus on workouts, that I know are in my control, than weight lost, that can sometimes be fickle despite doing everything right.) Get it here.

Have you tried any of these apps and loved or hated them? Anything you'd like to add to this list?