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Mobile Fitness & Running Applications: Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

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People Running.jpgAfter the excesses of Christmas, one of the more popular New Year’s Resolutions is always to do more exercise and to be healthier. It’s no wonder that January is the peak month for new gym memberships and why the gyms always seem to be packed in January.


A great alternative to working out in the gym is to integrate exercise into your daily routine: for example jogging around the park in the morning or cycling to work. In this article, we review some of smartphone applications and accessories that allow you to monitor and keep track of your daily exercise routine. We’ll also look at how these applications make it more rewarding to keep fit and how they can help you to stick to your New Year’s Resolutions throughout 2012.


How to be successful at keeping your New Year’s Resolutions


Research has shown that we are more successful at keeping our New Year’s Resolutions when we:


  1. Make only one New Year’s Resolution.
  2. Break our New Year’s Resolutions down into small goals or milestones. Each milestone should be concrete, measurable and should have it's own deadline.
  3. Tell our friends and family about our New Year’s Resolutions. It helps us to achieve them – partly due to having additional support towards our goals as well as an additional fear of failing.
  4. Keep records of our progress towards our goals and New Year’s Resolutions. This could be in any written or electronic form: perhaps a diary, blog, spreadsheet or notice board.

Using your smartphone on a workout


Many of us already regularly use our smartphones to listen to music. For joggers, smartphones are great for music as they use solid state flash memory – unlike CD players or MP3 players with a hard disk, there are no moving parts inside a smartphone and hence your music will never skip as you run. Just be careful about dropping your smartphone on your run – it’s a good idea to have a decent protective case or an armband strap to protect against accidental damage.


Smartphone applications to monitor your workouts


Runkeeper.jpgThere are several free applications available for your smartphone which can help you to achieve your New Year’s Resolutions of exercising on a more regular basis. These applications allow you to set your own exercise goals and then make use of all the clever technology in your smartphone such as the GPS chip and the built-in accelerometer to measure your progress towards those goals. The applications will keep track of information such as your route, distance, altitude, time, pace and the number of calories burnt along the way.


Available applications include:


All of these applications will allow you to set goals and to measure your progress towards those goals. In a couple of weeks, it should be possible to look back at your previous runs and to graphically see your progress. You can also make use of the social network integration in the applications to keep your family and friends updated about your progress.


Another 5 ways you could use the applications to make your run a little more interesting:


  • Link up your smartphone fitness application with your Facebook account. This’ll allow you to compare your progress against your friends.
  • Use the RunKeeper website to find interesting new routes for your morning run.
  • Enrol in a FitnessClass training programme in the RunKeeper app. These programmes have been designed by expert coaches and you’ll be able to monitor your progress alongside other people enrolled in the same programme.
  • Take part in a virtual race using the CardioTrainer application. You’ll be able to compare your times against other people who are also running.
  • Post the results of your workout on Facebook or Twitter.

Be warned that exercise applications may use up the battery on your smartphone very quickly. This is because the GPS tracking feature tends to consume a lot of power.


Heart Rate Monitor.jpgMeasuring your heart rate with a smartphone or tablet


If you’re interested in seeing how your body is reacting to exercise, the Instant Heart Rate application for iPhone (69p) and Android (free) is a quick and easy way to measure your heart rate using a smartphone. The application makes use of the LED flash and camera on your smartphone. Your pulse is measured by placing your finger over the camera lens: the application finds your pulse by looking for small changes in the colour of your finger and the amount of light which is reflected by your finger. It’s the similar principle to that used by medical pulse oximeters to measure your heart rate.


iPad 2 owners can download the “Philips Vital Signs Camera” application (69p) which takes a slightly different approach to measuring your heart rate and breathing rate. The application makes use of the front-facing camera on your iPad and measures your heart rate and breathing rate from small changes in skin colour and chest movements.


Philips Vital Signs.jpgBoth of these applications allow you to measure your heart rate after exercising and to determine whether you reached your desired heart rate training zone. If you’re really serious about reaching your training zone, it may be worth investing in a chest strap which continuously monitors your heart rate as you exercise. The Polar Wearlink+ Transmitter (approx. £40) communicates with your smartphone via Bluetooth and can integrate with Nike+ for iPhone or RunKeeper for Android.


Your New Year’s Resolutions


In this article, we’ve looked at several smartphone applications which can help you to stay fit throughout 2012. What are your New Year’s Resolutions for 2012? How do you think your smartphone could help you to keep your New Year’s Resolutions in 2012? Drop us a comment below: we’d love to hear from you.

Excellent, thanks Kenlo!

that will help a lot of people.thank you.

Nice article! There are a couple of other running apps on the iPhone that I can recommend: Runtastic Pro (which is great value for money) and there's also a Nike+ GPS app which doesn't require those Nike+ trainers with the sensor. (I've got them but find them a bit of a pain to pair to my phone!) Looking forward to getting back out there after the excesses of Chtistmas....

Great article kento, one thing though, you forgot the original running app for Android 'My Tracks' which lets you export your GPS data to Google docs, for a stat junkie like me that is heaven Smiley Happy

Thanks for the article kenlo, lots of useful information here. I've been trying to keep fit but don't have the motivation to keep to a routine. I can see how these smartphone apps would make exercising a lot more enjoyable!
nice blog post! lots of info

My New Year's Resolution is to stop buying useless stuff, and try to stick to a budget.

I think I may have failed, because I've recently bought an iPhone 4S. Smiley Wink

Though, I also bought a cool little app called, "BudgetCare" for £1.49. Smiley Happy


It does a brilliant job of helping you track every penny you spend, in easy to navigate catergories, and with a nice visualisation of how much you are blowing a hole in your budget.


It also allows you to email CSV files, after every month, so you can keep a record of how well you are doing.


It certainly has saved me more than the £1.49 price, so I would definitely recommend it.


Have a Happy, and Hopefully Prosperous, New Year.


Enjoyed reading this kenlo...very informative...thankyou.

My wife is part of a slimming world club (I'm not - if I stand sideways, I disappear ..!!! Smiley TongueSmiley Very Happy) and we were just talking the other day on how she could measure distance, calories etc information from the many walks we go on.


This has helped us alot.


Interesting article.


Thanks Smiley Happy


Thansk for your informationMan Wink