3 Great Fitness Apps & Why They Work

It’s easy to be skeptical of fitness apps. There are so many of them out there that the category is almost difficult to navigate, and many of them don’t even come from professional sources. Anyone with the capability to design an app can release a fitness program, and anyone with a little bit of creative know-how can make that program seem like the best workout concept under the sun! That’s not to say apps aren’t legitimate – but it can be a little bit hard to know whether you’re getting into something tried and true, or something new and experimental.

Because of this, it can sometimes be a good idea to consider (or research) why an app is beneficial before you try it. Try to ignore testimonials and claims about specific effectiveness, and instead think logically: will this app lead you to work out, and do so responsibly? If so, the results will follow in time!

With this in mind, we wanted to look at a few popular fitness apps that are actually worthwhile, and delve into why.


Zombies, Run!

There’s a chance that this is both the silliest and best workout app available in Android and iOS stores. It’s about as much of a video game as it is a running tool, and combines the popular genre of zombie apocalypse survival with exercise. For the most part, the app revolves around an audio system that can pair with your music, but which will also alert you when zombies are getting closer during your run – prompting you to run faster or more steadily. You can also collect “resources” while you’re out running and use them to build up your settlement in the game once you’re done. It’s all fairly cleverly done, and a lot of people seem to swear by it as a running incentive.

As for why it seems to work, it actually comes down to pretty basic psychology. While plenty of cardio enthusiasts tout their “runner’s high” experiences, a lot of people just don’t enjoy this sort of exercise. Adrian Hon, who owns the company that developed this app, basically cites this as the reason for its creation. He mentions that he hated running as a teenager until he started using apps, but that even those apps don’t actually make the act of running any more fun for beginners. He wanted to create a true running game for this reason. Zombies, Run! works because it takes the boredom out of long-distance cardio for a lot of people.




Carrot Fit

Sometimes the best fitness stories revolve around incentives. For instance, if you’re a football fan you might have been aware that Seattle Seahawks running back Eddie Lacy had a special clause in his contract offering him a bonus if he showed up for training camp below a certain weight. Or if you’re more interested in fitness efforts by those who aren’t professional athletes, you may have noticed a somewhat similar story a couple of years ago. Then, a man named Alistair Lee won £5,000 from a betting firm by losing a whopping 100lbs in the space of a year. It’s a crazy achievement.

Carrot Fit doesn’t offer you anything like those kinds of financial rewards – no app does (though the app Pact will pay you small amounts for sticking to a schedule). But Carrot Fit does tap into similar psychology in that it turns your weight loss into an issue that has to be addressed openly, and it gives you reason beyond internal desire to accomplish your goals. It actually does this more or less by insulting you when you aren’t doing a good job. But if you can take a little bit of criticism from an automated program, it’s quite effective. You’ll workout for the reward of not being criticized, and the app’s quick, high-intensity exercise program will help you do it.



Couch to 5K

This app is designed to do exactly what its name suggests: get you off the couch and ready to run a 5K. It does so through a nine-week training program, which is actually a fairly generous amount of time no matter what your current fitness level may be. The app has become very popular likely thanks to its steady, but not imposing schedule.

One likely reason that this app seems to work for people is that it doesn’t focus on weight loss but rather gives you other tangible goals to shoot for. Refinery29 wrote a whole article on this (which we’d recommend you read regardless of your interest in fitness apps), and talked about not perpetuating the myth that the main point of exercise is to lose weight. The main point of exercise, in a word, is health. That might mean physical health, mental health, emotional relaxation, or even socializing – or, yes, weight loss. With so many other apps focusing either directly or indirectly on weight loss, Couch to 5K gets you thinking about meeting a specific fitness goal. Sometimes that’s just the healthiest way to focus.



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