10 February 2016Too shy or poor for gyms? Get fit with apps for your mobile phone
Gym membership can be pricey, and celebrity workout DVDs frankly seem passé - the latest and cheapest options for people who want to get fit are apps for your mobile phone or tablet.
There is a huge selection to choose from, depending on your starting level of fitness and motivation.
Here, Good Health looks at some of the best options...
FOR BEGINNERS: RUN 5KM AFTER ONLY NINE WEEKS
Couch to 5k app, free, available for iPhone and Android devices
An NHS-produced app targeting those who have no previous running experience. It offers a nine-week programme designed to get you off the sofa and running 5km by the end.
There is a discussion forum for moral support and a 'life-after' coaching platform for people who have completed the programme to help them continue an active lifestyle. The first week, for instance, involves fast walking, then alternating 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.
'This is pitched at people who don't do very much, and the most user-friendly of the apps I've seen,' says Allison Galaun, a sports psychologist.
'This app will give the user confidence because it is so achievable and easy to follow as well as offering you a sense of being connected and in control.' 5/5
FOR BUSY BEES: JUST SEVEN MINUTES A DAY
Seven app, free to download basic version, then £2.29 per extra workout, for iPhone and Android
an app that offers a database of seven-minute video workouts which you can choose from - from cardio-vascular workouts to strength or fat-burning.
'This is a great app to do if you are new to exercising, short on time or travelling,' says Professor Greg Whyte, a sports scientist and director of performance the Centre for Health and Human Performance.
'The exercises require little or no equipment, and though basic can be challenging, in modules of seven minutes that you can multiply to do a longer workout.'
The downside is that there is no one to check you are doing the exercises correctly. 4/5
FOR GYM GOERS: YOUR PERSONAL ROUTINE
Jefit workout trainer app, free, for iPhone and Android
Enter your age, gender, weight and height and Jefit devises personalised workouts, ranging from specific routines to tone or strengthen muscles, to specific sports or yoga training.
Each routine has pictures to show you how to do it, and describes the purpose of that exercise.
Jefit workout trainer app, free, for iPhone and Android (l) and Sworkit Lite app, free for basic version (r)
Many of the workouts require access to equipment such as dumbbells. Users can share exercise routines, too.
A huge amount of money has been spent on this - there are 60 workouts to choose from with a lot of information,' says Professor Whyte.
'Not knowing how to use gym equipment puts many people off or leads to injury, and so this app is a good guide.
'However, this also has more than 2,000 workouts built by users, and I'd be worried about quality control, he adds. 4/5
FOR THE EASILY BORED: MIX THINGS UP
Sworkit Lite app, free for basic version, premium version costs £2.29 per month/£14.99 annually, for iPhone and Android
offers four types of workout - strength, cardio, yoga and stretching, or a combination of them.
It includes timed video workouts, lasting from five minutes to an hour.
The premium version has more detailed directions and no adverts.
'The workouts can be done with or without equipment, so you can use it anywhere at any time,' says Professor Whyte.
'This app shows you what to do with a video - but there's no explanation on technique and how to do it.' 4/5
FOR ALL ABILITIES: yoga CLASSes AT HOME
YogaStudio app, £2.49, IOS, Android and Windows
A simple app with 65 classes for beginners to expert yogis. You can also make your own video from the 280 poses. Schedule a time for your yoga and it can notify you each day.
YogaStudio app, £2.49, IOS, Android and Windows (l) and Strava app, free (r)
'I love the extensive amount of pre-formatted yoga classes, which makes it easier for users to follow through,' says Christina Howells, a personal trainer and yoga instructor.
'If you need further instructions on a pose this is extensively detailed.' 5/5
FOR fitness fanatics: RACE AGAINST OTHERS
Strava app, free, or premium version costs £4.49 a month or £44.99 annually, for iPhone, Android and Windows devices
tracks your runs and cycle rides as you go, using the GPS in your phone to track distance, speed and times.
It then compares your performance with other users and ranks you based on measures, including speed and calorie expenditure.
It also offers challenges.
'This is for competitive, experienced athletes and is an excellent app for all it offers, particularly that you can store your data and use it to track progress,' said Professor Whyte.
'But the downside is it's very public and full of people doing incredible things, so if you're new to exercise, it can be demotivating.' 5/5
FOR MUSIC LOVERS: motivating SONGS
Rock My Run app, free, for iPhone and Android
This provides thousands of free music mixes to accompany your run.
The app adjusts the tempo of the music according to how fast you are running.
You can also link it to a heart-rate monitor so the app then adjusts the tempo to your heart rate.
Research has shown the benefits of exercising to music - from distracting you from pain to making you exercise further than you realise.
'I love this app - it's great for motivation but younger people will probably enjoy it more because the tempo can be quite hectic,' said Christina Howells. 4/5
FOR GENEROUS SOULS: GET FIT for charity
Charity Miles app, free, for iPhone and Android
Earn money for charity with every step - this app gives money to a charity of your choice.
Cyclists earn up to about 7p per mile; walkers and runners earn up to 17p per mile.
The app tracks the miles you do using your phone's GPS and once an event is completed tells you to share your achievement on social media, triggering the donation.
'To improve yourself and put money back into something worthwhile is a massive motivation,' says Allison Galaun. 'Doing exercise for a cause makes our willpower stronger.'