Could your best piece of exercise equipment be the thing in your trouser pocket that you love to fiddle with all day? No, silly, we’re talking about your mobile phone not your testicles*!
When Alexander Graham Bell unveiled the world’s first mobile phone, its dynamo power source kept men fit because it required the user to run at a speed of no less than seven hectares a fortnight, lest the device explode (NB – weight loss is our thing, not history). Most of you will remember the craze for using two Nokia 3310 handsets, each weighing 4kg, as workout dumbells so the Lynx deodorant generation could treat a chick to the gun show while simultaneously chatting up two birds on the old dog and bone.
Of course, neither of these mobile phone facts are true, but what they tell us about the evolution of the mobile phone as an exercise device is still fascinating – what has your mobile phone done for your health lately? Well here’s 5 apps that can get your phone doing the workouts, so you don’t have to. Except when you do.
We’re not sure how anyone counted calories before the advent of internet-based trackers like MyFitnessPal, but we’re sure it was a massive pain in the arse.
MyFitnessPal is probably the most popular free way to follow a weight loss plan and it’s easy to see why – it has a slick, feature-packed app (we’re huge fans of the barcode scanner), thousands of foods in its database and an active community which is supportive (most of the time, this is the internet after all).
Even if you’re not strictly following a calorie counting plan, the wealth of nutritional information available makes it an invaluable tool for keeping track of your macros too.
All in all, it makes calorie counting a breeze when otherwise it would involve unsavoury things like maths. All this and the free version is still just as useful as the premium, why is that?
2. Map My Walk
There’s a reason why most weight loss guides tell you to start walking if you’re an exercise beginner – it’s free, easy to do and really good for you, reducing the risk of things like type 2 diabetes and heart disease according to the NHS. But let’s be honest, unless you’re walking through a picturesque wonderland or walking towards food, it can be a bit boring.
MapMyWalk makes it easy to get into walking as an engaging and consistent form of exercise. The website features routes, training plans, challenges and guidance on nutrition and is designed to be used in conjunction with the app, which records the time spent walking and other stats like your mileage, pace and calories burned.
And if you find you want something more challenging than walking, MapMyWalk is just one app in a suite of excellent fitness tracking apps – the others being MapMyRun, MapMyFitness, MapMyRide and MapMyHike.
3. Happy Scale
Although there’s a lot to be said for ditching the scales altogether, for a lot of us it’s our preferred method of tracking weight loss progress, even if a bad week shown as a gain can make us feel like a failure (yup, been there). So if you’ve ever stepped on the scales and not liked what you’ve seen, Happy Scale is the app for you.
It’s essentially a weight tracking app that turns your weigh ins into a nice graph so you can see at a glance how things are going. So far, so basic. The real beauty of Happy Scale is the way it smooths out your weigh-ins, giving you a more rounded look at your weight loss which doesn’t let a gain show as a massive, intimidating spike.
It also has a lot of inspiring data to show you based on what you input, including how quickly you’re losing weight, when you’re likely to hit your goal weight and what your average weekly loss is. You can also use it to set mini goals, which is helpful when it feels like you’ve got a long way to go.
Happy Scale is available on iOS.
If you want to start exercising but don’t want to join a gym and have no idea where to start, Freeletics Bodyweight is a great app to help you grasp the basics. The app features an extensive library of exercises which don’t require any equipment (handy if you’re travelling or are loathe to spend cash on things which will probably just end up gathering dust) and there are video tutorials so you can be sure you’re doing the moves correctly.
With over 900 workouts which cover all muscle groups and are tailored for all abilities, it’s possible to get to a solid fitness state from using the app alone and that’s not bad for something which is free and takes seconds to download.
If you’re feeling flash you can also pay for personalised training plans, fitness tests and access to the two other Freeletics apps, Freeletics Running and Freeletics Gym. If you need some guidance on nutrition to go along with all that the company also offer nutrition plans with Freeletics Nutrition.
This one isn’t solely dedicated to weight loss, but it makes the list purely because there is a stupendous amount of support available to those looking to lose weight, whatever way you’re doing it – whether you’re calorie counting, going keto or giving Slimming World a shot it’s easy to find people doing the same thing and going through the same struggles as you (how many Syns?! How do I make bread without carbs?! Is cheese keto?! WELL – IS IT?)
So how do you utilise Instagram in the fight against fat? Take pictures of what you eat, tag them with the appropriate hashtags and build up a community of likeminded people by following accounts also dedicated to weight loss.
Posting pictures of what you’re eating may seem a bit cliched, but a study by the University of Washington has shown that focusing on your food by photographing it tends to inspire healthier choices. If you also document your fitness and weight loss progress on your feed MVF forum user motti82 also makes the very good point that it’s a great way of celebrating what you’ve achieved, and it’s a nice thing to be able to look back on.
But if you don’t fancy adding pictures of your gourmet creations to the 221,274,199 (and counting) pictures already on there tagged with #food, it’s still a great place to look for motivation and recipe ideas. Our favourite users include the Body Coach Joe Wicks, @thefoodieslimmer, @whatihave.eaten and @theslimmingman and we also like to browse through hashtags including #transformationtuesday, #weightlossmotivation and #slimlikeaman when our motivation dips.
Do you use apps to help with your weight loss efforts? Did we miss your favourite? Let us know over on the forum.
*Don’t forget to medically fiddle with your nads once a month though. It’s important stuff chaps.