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This article was published on June 3, 2011

8 great apps to stay fit, healthy…and alive

8 great apps to stay fit, healthy…and alive
Paul Sawers
Story by

Paul Sawers

Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check h Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check him out on Google+.

When Michelangelo applied the final strokes to his Sistine Chapel fresco masterpiece, he could have been forgiven for wondering how on earth he would top his magnificent feat. And many say he never did.

Fast-forward five hundred years from the Italian Renaissance period to the modern digital era and some would argue that Apple, too, set itself an unbeatable benchmark with the release of the iPhone in June 2007.

The all-singing, all-dancing device was unveiled to the world with the usual aplomb that we’ve come to expect of Apple since its return to form over a decade ago with the release of the iMac and its domination of the portable media player market with the iPod.

Apple has released three subsequent iPhones since the original- with iPhone 5 rumors still circulating too – not to mention two iPads. It seems that Apple continues to outdo itself each time, albeit to varying degrees. With iOS third-party application support, a massive industry has developed. Innovation is emanating from everywhere, it has gone viral and it has spread across to other platforms too. Apple didn’t invent mobile apps, but they certainly did a lot for its street cred.

Apps are everywhere – any problem you have, there’s likely to be an app to solve it. And there are even apps for monitoring your health and getting you fit.

Indeed, it’s the myriad of health and fitness apps that perhaps best illustrate how consumer technology such as smartphones have long transcended ‘cool’ and ‘useful’, and now perform far more critical functions in many people’s lives.

So here’s a snapshot of just some of the apps that can keep you fit, healthy…and even alive.

Patient Monitoring


An app for clinicians

This app relies on healthcare facilities purchasing AirStrip technology. With that in place, clinicians can download this free app, allowing them to monitor and care for patients remotely. Waveform patterns, bedside alarms, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and other key patient data are sent to medical pros’ mobile devices for instant interpretation and collaboration. The app is free, and works across iOS, BlackBerry, Android and Windows mobile devices.

As far as potentially life-saving apps go, Patient Monitoring is certainly up there.


Track your runs

RunKeeper gives runners all the vital statistics from their runs, such as distance covered, speed, elevation and time. Heck, you can even link your results with your social networks so that friends can check your progress and you can have competitions – all in the name of fun. And keeping fit, of course.

Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker

Monitor your eating habitsCalorie Counter & Diet Tracker

If you’re one to count your calories, then the aptly-named Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker is probably the app for you. You can set yourself a daily calorie goal, and record everything you eat throughout the day, as well as the exercise you take. The app lets users tap into a massive food database – over 750,000 items – which means you can access all the nutritional data you need to ensure you can lose weight…and stay trim.

SparkRecipes: Healthy Recipes

Recipes for healthy eatingHealthy Recipes

Whilst the Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker app helps you monitor what you eat, this Health Recipes app helps you decide what to cook at home by giving you access to almost 200,000 healthy recipes. You can browse by course, ethnicity and preparation time, and save the results in your favorites. Not bad for free.


Words of encouragement from elite athletesNike BOOM

This is a neat little free app from the guys at Nike. Nike BOOM syncs your music to your workouts, and your sport’s elite athletes and coaches shout words of encouragement along the way.

You select your sport, what type of training you’re doing, the time-frame and a playlist from your device. Your music is cut-in by motivational pep-talks from some well known sporting names. Whilst it is worth checking out, some of the voices can get a bit repetitive after a while, though you can connect with your Facebook friends via the app and receive motivational words of encouragement from them in real-time.


Short bursts of exerciseFitFu

Is one of the reasons you don’t exercise much because you simply don’t have the time? If so, then this app could be your saviour.

The idea behind FitFu is to encourage and track shorter bursts of exercise throughout the day rather than extended periods of sustained activity. Inside the app there are 8 simple exercises, with motion detection that can tell when you’re active and can monitor reps. The cool thing about this app is that you can set alarms at intervals to remind you to take a minute or two out of your schedule, and it also has a social element built in so you can compete with friends throughout the day.


The augmented reality fitness game

This app probably wins the prize for the most quirky way of keeping fit. SpecTrek is an augmented reality game where you hunt virtual ghosts in the real world using your smartphone’s GPS and screen.


Firstly, there are some inherent flaws with this game if you’re looking to keep fit. You need a large open space for starters, and there’s always a danger that you’ll run into something or off the edge of somewhere if you get too caught up.

The premise of SpecTrek is excellent, but although it sells itself as a health and fitness app, I’d be more tempted to put this in the ‘game’ category – simply because there’s easier ways of staying fit. That said, it is a really fun way of tempting couch potatoes off their asses and into the great outdoors.

Backpacker GPS Trails

Locate trails, navigate and shareBackpacker GPS Trails

Not everyone likes running, doing crunchies or even worrying about their calorie intake. If you’re one that simply likes to hit the hills and roam free, this is a great little app.

With Backpacker GPS Trails, you can identify trails, searching by specific name or a park nearby, or select from trails close to your current location thanks to its GPS functionality. This is also a good app for viewing fact-checked trail reports, where you can receive turn-by-turn directions, photos, and maps. This app will set you back $10, so if you’re accustomed to free apps, then you may want to look elsewhere.