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The Fiftysomething Workout: 10 Top Fitness Apps

Whether you're a runner, walker, gym rat or yoga practitioner, there's a smartphone app to help you meet your goals

By Andrea King Collier

We're using smartphone apps to communicate, play games, get directions and, increasingly, to direct and monitor our fitness regimens.

There are hundreds of apps — many of them free — to help you plan workouts and track your goals. But how do you determine which ones are right for you?

Start by figuring out your personal fitness goals and how an app could support them. Do you want to note your progress walking, running or golfing? Are you looking for instruction or tips? Or are you seeking motivation to increase your overall physical activity?

Generally, there is a wider selection of apps available for the iPhone and iPad, but many of the best are also available for Android phones. Since most are free, it's easy to try some out and see if they help. Many top apps also offer upgrades that deliver additional features, for a charge. It's best to be sure an app works for you before paying for its add-ons, of course, and it's also good practice to scan online reviews before purchasing.

(MORE: The Fiftysomething Diet: Workout Foods to Fuel Your Boomer Body)

Just remember: Apps are only tools. They can't drive you to the gym or walk you to the track. That's your job. But apps can make your exercise time more productive, engaging and fun. (Don't forget to check with your doctor before embarking on a new fitness routine.)

Here are 10 of the top fitness apps we've discovered:

(Free; for iPhone, iPad and Android)

Powerhouse app FitnessBuilder is like having a personal trainer in the palm of your hand. The app gives you everything you need to launch a new regimen and keep it going, with 200 distinct workouts to choose from, based on your particular goals and fitness level. The app also includes videos to explain moves, a timer and, of course, tracking and record-keeping capability.

Nike Fitness Club
(Free; for iPhone)

Another personal-trainer-in-a-phone tool, Nike Fitness Club has become one of the most popular fitness apps for women. It features 85 custom workouts, developed by Nike trainers and some celebrity trainers, plus videos that demonstrate technique and an audio coach to encourage you to keep moving.

Pocket Yoga
($2.99; for iPhone, iPad and Android)

For those of us whose goals are more zen, there's Pocket Yoga. This app recognizes that yoga can be practiced just about anywhere, with no equipment. It enables you to have your own personal yogi walk you through positions wherever you are. And the app has three difficulty levels, so beginners and more experienced practitioners alike can work their way up at their own pace.

(Free; for iPhone, iPad and Android)

If you've never run a road race, but a 5K or longer is on your fitness to-do list, you might want to consider C25K, or "Couch to 5K." Over nine weeks, this app slowly boosts your fitness and running stamina. The basic program guides you through three training sessions a week, but more advanced or custom routines are available as in-app purchases.

(Free; for iPhone, iPad and Android)

For runners, walkers, hikers, bikers and even skiers, Runkeeper delivers GPS tools to track your speed and route, and it automatically syncs with the Runkeeper website after each run or workout so you can log in and get a historical record of your progress. You can even post your results and progress to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Zombies, Run!
($3.99; for iPhone and Android)


There are a lot of apps being made for runners, but the hybrid Zombies, Run! might be the most fun. At its core, it's an eight-week training app that gets you ready for a 5K race or just improves your overall physical activity. But it's also a game featuring various story lines in which you need to run away from, you guessed it, zombies. Despite the name, the app and game follow your own pace, so you could just use it to liven up your regular walks as well.

($1.99; for iPhone and iPad)

If your goal is to boost your cardiovascular activity through walking, iTreadmill might offer the tracking and motivation you need. Some fitness experts believe 10,000 steps a day should be the average adult's health goal. This app helps show you how close (or far) you are from that standard. It functions like a pedometer by measuring your steps, distance and speed throughout the day, but it doesn't need to be clipped to your clothes; it works just fine from inside your pocket or purse (that is, if you're carrying the purse).

(MORE: The Fiftysomething Workout: Increase the Intensity)

Gym Goal
(Free; for iPhone, iPad and Android)

Trainers and physiologists know that adding weights and resistance exercises to your workouts not only builds strength and muscle mass, but also helps burn calories. Gym Goal walks you through the keys to proper weight-training form and provides more than 200 workouts you can modify based on your goals and capabilities.

My Fitness Pal
(Free; for iPhone, iPad and Android)

Studies have found that people who exercise regularly and track their calorie consumption tend to lose more weight and keep it off longer than those who exercise just as much but don't record what they eat. My Fitness Pal offers an easy-to-use food diary and activity log and it can sync with tools like the Withings Wi-Fi Body Scale or the Fitbit Aris smart Scale to measure your weight loss and body mass index as well.

(Free; for iPhone, iPad and Android)

Fitbit is another multiplatform app for tracking physical activity, diet and weight loss, as well as your sleep habits — another crucial piece of the fitness puzzle. You can separately purchase Bluetooth-enabled Fitbit devices to track all your movements, whether down the block or down the stairs. With a free online account, sync your diet and fitness data across your devices and onto your computer. You can even compete with friends and family who have Fitbit accounts.

Andrea King Collier is a multimedia journalist and lead author of The Black Woman’s Guide to Black Men’s Health.

Photograph of Andrea King Collier
Andrea King Collier is a journalist and author based in Lansing, Mich. Read More
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