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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.


Fantastic topic for a blog, keeping fit for all is hard and this really helps to get out thier and are very very helpful.


thanks for the info a really good read, I might down load a couple of these apps, but I'm not sure I can be bother with the whole exercise thing Smiley Wink


Nice post but just make sure if your going to use the APP you fully charge your phone first, because the APP will use loads of battery power if your screens on all the time.


Just a thought.Smiley Surprised


Great blog, way too late for me though.Smiley Sad


Endomondo for BlackBerry is a great app which covers a multitude of sports (including running & cycling) & comes in free & paid versions.


I use the free version & it works a treat - it has an option to use a voice coach if you need motivation, & will also send an update of your progress to your Facebook wall if you opt for that.


Well worth a try.


a very timely article kenlo, good one.

not sure running is quite my thing but I really should get a bike cos I gave up smoking last year & went up 2 sizes round the waste.

The best thing about using your phone for this is that you can find out if you really need a specialist GPS before you buy. I was planning to buy a GPS for tracking my walks, but I am going to try one of these aps first.

I just broke mine already... to save money... Smiley Sad y do things have to be so tempting :/

Good post But please If your not used to a regular fitness routine , build your fitness up slowly and it's usually good advice to see your local doctor before starting any fitness program

also, if your exercise is more Gym orientated JeFit is EXCELLENT!


without it i would of given up months ago!