Health; it’s never been more important. With the pandemic ramping up once more, our workouts and exercise regimes are a precious outlet — the key to remaining physically fit and strong. And, thanks to new technologies and advancements in fitness gear, we’ve never had access to better workout kit.
It’s also never been easier to find advice tailored to our specific needs – whether that be generally fitness-related, or more specifically focused on nutrition, mental wellbeing or illness. But, with so many fitness and health apps available, it can be difficult to find the right digital trainer, app-based workout plan or virtual coach for you. And, with only one hour of outdoor exercise permitted per day, we literally have no time to lose.
So we’ve rounded up six of the finest health apps out there. From a Hollywood-endorsed one-stop-shop for fitness to an NHS-backed app to ease you into running, there’s something for everyone…
The all-rounder: Centr
Did you see Extraction last summer on Netflix? How about the latest Avengers film? If you did, Chris Hemsworth’s biceps likely had you feeling bad about your own. Luckily, the actor himself has founded Centr — an app chock full of fitness, nutrition and mindfulness advice from the training team that whips him into shape for roles.
There are HIIT, yoga, boxing and MMA workouts from Hemsworth’s team of specialist personal trainers — including his stunt double Bobby Holland Hanton — dietician-approved recipes, shopping lists and meal plans from chefs such as Darren Robertson, plus guided meditations, stress-relieving techniques, confidence boosting strategies and sleep visualisations to support your mental health. You’ll be feeling like a superhero in no time.
The lockdown-centric one: Couch to 5K
Since the pandemic hit, Couch to 5K has seen a surge in popularity. Founded back in the 1990s as a web-based running plan, entrepreneur Josh Clark devised the idea after a bad breakup. “It was punishing and painful,” he told us last year, “and if I’m honest, maybe that was the point. But then something crazy happened: it started to feel good. At some point, the boring awful discomfort gave way to real pleasure — physically, mentally, even spiritually.”
This NHS-backed app has taken the plan and made it easier than ever to complete. You can choose from five different trainers who will guide as you train (including former Olympian Michael Johnson), and the user-friendly app lets you track your progress and awards achievements as you move through the runs. An ideal choice for any workout novices.
The diet one: MyFitnessPal
Confident in your workout regime but still struggling to shift those last few pounds? Chances are your diet needs a little work. At its most basic, MyFitnessPal is a calorie tracker and food journal and, if nothing else, will make you aware exactly what you’re putting in to your body and where those extra calories are coming from.
However, should you choose, MyFitnessPal can also help you manage your weight loss by calculating the number of calories you should be eating each day (not everyone should be consuming the average 2,500-a-day). It also accounts for calorie deficits from exercise and can help you create balanced meal plans by tracking the ratio of macro and micro nutrients you’re eating. It’s like having a nutritionist in your pocket at all times.
The wellness one: Calm
A former ‘App of the Year’, Calm is currently the number one download for sleep and meditation with over 50 million installs and 700,000 five-star reviews — which should tell you something about how effective it is. Offering a full wellbeing programme, created by mindfulness expert Tamara Levitt, Calm aims to make you the most relaxed version of yourself possible.
There are guided meditations, audio mindfulness masterclasses, breathing exercises, low-intensity stretching workouts, playlists to help you focus — and even bedtime stories to send you off to sleep read by current Gentleman’s Journal cover star Matthew McConaughey. Imagine a soothing cup of camomile tea, but in app form.
The fitness one: Nike Training Club
Maybe losing your access to a gym for six weeks is just what you need. For once, you won’t be faced with all of those intimidating, complex machines — spoilt for choice and with no idea where to start. Nike Training Club can help. Completely free to use, the app hosts more the 190 workouts devised by the brand’s Master Trainers, as well as athletes including Simone Biles, Cristiano Ronaldo and Rory McIlroy, split into Strength, Endurance, Yoga and Mobility categories to help you find the right ones for you.
And yes, there are equipment-based workouts — but you can also go gear-free; and devise a series of 4-6 week training plans based on your goals, activity levels and the amount of time you can devote to working out. Nike’s Running app (another favourite of ours) can also be linked up to this, so you can benefit from an all-round fitness experience — down to healthy recipe ideas, weekly fitness challenges and information on how to connect with sport groups in your area.
The medical one: NHS App
Perhaps not as fun or frivolous as the other apps on this list, the NHS App is possibly the most important health app to download if you live in the UK. We’ve all got the ‘Track and Trace’ app, but this one is a little more useful for everyday ailments. Firstly, there’s an entire section where you can check your symptoms and receive trusted NHS information on what might ail you and advice on whether you need to see a doctor about it.
And, secondly, you can do all sorts of medical admin – booking and cancelling GP appointments, ordering repeat prescriptions and viewing your medical record – without taking up a second of an NHS worker’s time which, we can all agree, could currently be much better spent elsewhere. Again, it’s not as exciting as looking like Chris Hemsworth or listening to Matthew McConaughey — but, when it comes to your health, it’s number one.
Looking to hit that 5K target? These are the best running headphones we guarantee won’t fall out…
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