The good, the bad and the meh of health and fitness apps

Use of health and fitness apps is on the up, and nowhere more so than on my phone.

It’s all part of the Quantified Self movement, where every creak, fart and sigh of your body is measured on a graph to scare you into doing more healthy stuff more often. That’s the theory, anyway.

Over the last year I found I was using health and fitness apps more and more – with mixed results. Here’s how I got on:


iDratedhealth and fitness apps
Drinking two litres of water a day is one of those well-worn bits of health advice that we’re all supposed to follow, but realistically, who does that?

For several months towards the end of 2013, I had a go using the iDrated app.

Whilst it’s not perfect (push notifications seem to go on and off at will, so you have to remember to go to the app to track your intake), it’s only 69p and I lost half a stone without really trying whilst using it (more water = less snacking).

All that water really makes a difference to your skin too. I stopped using it over Christmas and my face felt like sandpaper by New Year. So I’m back on the iDrated wagon now. A well-hydrated thumbs up for this one.


I think I know by now I’ll never be a runner, but I had a good crack at it at the start of 2013 using C25K.

The free version of this app supported me from no running up to running 5K. I did find the voice notifications to be a little quiet, or possibly I was playing my music too loud. This is a good, basic beginner’s running app. 


My Fitness Pal
I downloaded this by accident, thinking it actually had something to do with fitness, but really it’s all about calorie counting. I know many people swear by MFP, and it is interesting to see how quickly calorie intake builds up, especially if you’ve had a few beers.

Where it fell down for me is in measuring home-made foods. How do you know that my bowl of curry has the same calorific value as your bowl of curry? My bowl is pretty big, for starters.

But when you’re eating pre-made foods, this app great because you just scan in the bar code. Then follows the horror at how many calories that bar of fruit and nut you just inhaled contained. It does slightly suck the joy out of life, but that’s a side-effect of many health kicks, I find.


30 Day Fitness Challenges
Thirty day fitness blasts are all the rage right now, as it’s a quick, achievable goal that will hopefully see some fast results. But this was a really disappointing app, and certainly not worth the £1.99 I paid.

All the info is stuff you can find for free on the 30 Day Fitness Challenge website. There are no reminders to make sure you do your challenge every day. And when you do complete an exercise, the screen controls were unresponsive, so I couldn’t tick the boxes. I love ticking boxes! What’s the point of doing a 30 second plank exercise if you can’t then tick a box to say you’ve done it? Without electronic boxes to tick I’m just some chump in lycra. I didn’t need to waste a couple of quid to find that out.


I haven’t used this one but I’m hearing increasingly good reports of this free app, so it could be one to try in 2014. Moves tracks your daily movement and reminds you to get a shift on if you haven’t gone very far. I think they should rename this app Move it, Lardass. 

A surprising verdict

Ultimately my most-used health and fitness app of 2013 was Ye Olde Filofax, where I wrote down all my gym classes to make sure I hit my 150 session goal for the year.

A piece of paper and a pen. You heard it here first. Though I do think that Move it, Lardass has a lot of potential.gym challenge

Which health and fitness apps have helped you? Recommend me some stuff to download.

Also, where is the app that you just download from iTunes and suddenly you are healthier, richer, thinner and sporting better teeth? Surely somebody should have invented that by now?



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