Apps that will help you get moving — and keep you moving
Running, for many of us, is hard work. Maybe it's a motivation thing. Maybe it's physical thing. Whatever. It's exercise, and exercise is a pain.
Apps make it better. As part of Mobile Nations Fitness Month — MobileFit, we're calling it — we're looking at apps that can help you grind through an exercise. Or, actually, apps that will get you up and moving in the first place And that's OK — we could all use some help.
Today we're looking at some of the best running apps for Android. And we've got a few different kids of apps here. Some are more of the hard-core variety, for folks used to exercise and who may be looking to increase and improve the way they do things. Others are more basic — simply tracking steps or basic movement. There's a place for all of these, as one may lead to another.
Can't go wrong with Runkeeper. It lets you sign in with your Google account, which is always a good thing. You get proper tracking of your workout, the ability to chose from a number of training plans (lose weight, train for a race, just get started, etc.) and has various levels for all sorts of exercises. You get audible notifications (as any app should do), and you can add friends for accountability and fun. The app is nice designed, easy to use and has pro upgrades (through an in-app purchase) that opens up more sharing features. Will connect with a FitBit and ANT+ heart-rate monitors.
Download: Runkeeper (free)
Another great fitness app, Endomondo tracks all sorts of activities, including running and walking. You get audio feedback as you make your way through your route, or you can enter your workouts manually, if you prefer. Once you're done, you can share your result — though be careful if you're starting and stopping from home. You also can track your heart rate through Bluetooth-enabled devices, as well as ANT+ heart-rate monitors. There are a slew of challenges built in, so you're not just relying on yourself to push things.
There's a free version of the app available if you just want to try it out, or a monthly subscription will add a personal training plan, additional statistics, weather information and remove advertisements.
If you're using a FitBit to count your steps, there's a good chance you're using the FitBit app. It's not a traditional running/walking app in the sense that it helps guide your exercise. The FitBit app is more about counting than it is tracking, we suppose. But it does a great job with pure distance and calories burned, and it'll separate active minutes from the minutes in which you're just milling around.
The app is free, and some phones can take advantage of it without having to buy into FitBit's accessories line.
Download: FitBit (free)
Withings is best known for its smart scales — they'll tell you how much you weigh, of course, but they also go beyond that, depending on how much money you've spent. They can also keep up with your body fat percentage, air-quality level, and heart rate. And it all uploads to your Withings account over Wifi.
You're not going to drag a scale along with you on the road, though, so you also can input things manually. Withings makes this list because it'll track your steps as well. It'll keep an eye on your steps as well, but we'd recommend tying it into RunKeeper for better results. Withings does a straight activity tracker, too, dubbed the Pulse.
Runstastic is another longstanding and excellent way to keep up with your workouts. It's got a free trial, but if you're anything like us you'll quickly pony up for the Pro version. You get all the standard feature — mapping of your route, a calendar for long-term goals, and all sorts of social sharing. Plus you can manually add activities.
Runtastic Pro adds a voice coach, route search, audible cheering, heart-rate monitoring, interval workouts, weather information and, one of our favorite features, the ability to auto-pause the tracking should you stop for some reason. (Not that you should stop. But sometimes we stop. It happens.) You can check out all of the differences here.
Nike used to only hit the road with Apple and iOS, but that's finally changed, and now we have its excellent app on Android. You don't even need a Fuel Band — the app till track things for you. You also get audible feedback and cheering, music support, and more.
Nike has ended its hardware development, but the software lives on.
Download: Nike+ (free)
Running sucks. (At least if you're normal, it should suck.) This app makes it fun. Immersive and alternate reality games are nothing new, but Zombies, Run brings it into the fitness space. You're running. Zombies are chasing. There are plenty of stories to keep you entertained, so it keeps things fun. Want interval training? It can do that, too. If you're more of a walker than a runner, the app can handle that, too. (Just make sure you walk faster than zombies shuffle.)
Download: Zombies, Run ($3.99)
And as a reminder, Google Play Services has been updated with the ability to tell if you're walking or running or riding a bike, giving app developers — including Google itself — even more flexibility for their apps.
Those are but a few of the various running apps available on Android. We leave out your favorite? Give us a flogging in the comments.