There was a time when computing devices were the enemy of physical fitness. Okay, a lot of the time they still are. But with the right apps, your iPhone can be a brilliant fitness accessory, helping motivate you during workouts, assist you with technical adjustments, and measure, analyse and share the results.
A little less time spent playing Super Crate Box on your iPad might still be a good idea, though.
Best apps for fitness: stretching
Whatever form of exercise you choose to undertake, it's very important that you warm up first.
You can find effective warm-up techniques on iStretch (£1.49) to help you target and loosen up the key muscle areas whatever your athletic discipline. To make sure you hold that stretch for long enough, try Stretch Timer (69p) which can combine with your music and include numbers of reps and adjusts for stretches.
Best apps for fitness: running
Running is undoubtedly one of the most accessible ways to get fit. It's as primitive an exercise as they come, gives effective results quickly and, as a wealth of recent literature has alleged, it is what we, as humans, are programmed to do. While for our long-gone ancestors it was a means of survival, for us it's a great leisure pursuit, and a flexible one too. And your iPhone or iPod is there to do more than simply provide the motivating soundtrack.
If you're new to running or looking to pick it back up after a lengthy layoff, Get Running (£1.99) gives you realistic targets to hit in your first training sessions and a progress path to show how far you've come. Pushing you to three workouts a week and building up to combinations of running and walking, the original Couch 25k will have you knocking off a half hour run in no time, and has studio-recorded coaches prompting you throughout the run.
You'll need to keep track of your runs so that you can keep an eye on your progress. My Run Stats (69p) or Runner's Log (£1.99) are simple and straightforward ways to record the times and distance of each training session. Choosing between them is really a matter of the add-on perks, such as whether you want to export your stats to Excel or keep track of the number of miles on your trainers.
Two of the biggest sports heavyweights, Nike and Adidas both offer very handy performance-improving apps, such as Nike+ Running (free). Adidas miCoach (also free) can often bark at you to speed up if the GPS is faltering a little, such as in wooded or heavily built-up areas. A cute little addition to Nike's set up is that a double tap on the home button will switch your music to your chosen 'power tune', a motivational anthem to give you that push when you feel yourself flagging.
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