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Fitness and workout apps are becoming increasingly popular as more people work out at home. These apps can help by tracking exercise and encouraging users to develop healthy habits.
This article explores workout and fitness apps in further detail, including how they can help and how to choose one. It also provides a list of apps and discusses some health considerations.
A quick look at 9 of the best workout apps
- Best for tracking a variety of exercises: Runkeeper
- Best for tracking cycling and running: Strava
- Best for downloadable yoga classes: Glo
- Best for a beginner running program: Couch to 5K
- Best for gamification: Zombies, Run!
- Best for fundraising: Charity Miles
- Best for pregnancy and postpartum: Studio Bloom
- Best for building fitness habits: Nike Training Club
- Best for accessible workouts: Big Fit Girl
Frequent exercising can help people maintain moderate body weight and decrease the risk of certain diseases, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It can also
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults should aim for at least
However, it also reports that only
Finding the motivation and time to exercise can be difficult, and the research on how useful apps are in helping motivate people is mixed. A 2022 study found that mobile fitness technology could benefit physical and mental health in older adults. However, more community involvement is needed to realize those benefits.
Other studies found that while tracking was the most common feature of these apps, apps that combined exercise education and tracking or turned exercise into a game were more successful.
However, a 2017 study found that fitness
A 2015 study states that users should exercise caution when choosing an app for fitness. The researchers looked at 30 popular fitness apps and found that overall, the rate of adherence to guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine was low. The authors found that only one app included in the study scored higher than 50%.
A person should consider talking with a qualified fitness professional about exercising safely.
People interested in using an app to help them work out should consider the features most important to them. For example, some apps may also allow a person to track their diet and keep a food journal. Some may measure multiple types of physical activity, whereas others may focus on one activity.
Cost may be another consideration. Many apps are free for basic features. However, some may require a subscription cost or have in-app purchases.
A person may also find it helpful to read reviews and ratings before choosing an app. Reviews are usually available on the app page on Google Play and the App Store.
Limited research suggests that people may be more likely to stick with apps that include coaching from fitness professionals rather than peers and emphasize user control of their experience.
Medical News Today includes reputable, well-received apps with various price points and features.
Additionally, MNT looks at some of the following:
- Health claims: MNT includes companies that make no questionable health claims.
- Trust: MNT includes companies that operate transparently regarding their products, services, and leadership. Also, those companies have certifications from reputable, third-party organizations where relevant.
- Business standards: MNT will choose companies that follow safe and ethical business and marketing practices.
- Reputation: MNT will choose companies with no warnings from governing bodies, unresolved lawsuits, and positive standings with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Below, we look at eight of the top available workout apps in more detail.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.
Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.
Best for tracking a variety of exercises: Runkeeper
- Price: free to download and use, $39.99 to upgrade
- Sports included: walking, running
- iPhone rating: 4.8
- Android rating: 4.3
A person can create, save, and discover new routes. The app also uses GPS to monitor the pace and distance traveled.
The My Plan dashboard provides custom training plans based on a person’s answers to a series of questions, or a person can select from the ready-made schedules.
This app best suits people who enjoy various sports and exercises.
The app is free, but a person can upgrade to a premium membership for a more personalized experience. This membership costs $39.99 a year.
Best for tracking cycling and running: Strava
- Price: free to download and use, $7.99 monthly Premium subscription, $59.99 annual Premium subscription
- Sports included: cycling, running, hiking
- iPhone rating: 4.8
- Android rating: 4.6
Strava allows users to track their cycling and running journey using GPS. People can join challenges, connect with and follow friends, and share photos via the app.
The app is also compatible with several GPS devices, including:
- heart rate monitors
The app is free, but people can access many additional features if they pay $7.99 a month or an annual $59.99 fee. These include real-time location sharing, route planning, goal setting, training logs, and a Heatmaps feature showing popular routes in the person’s current location.
A person can record over 30 other sports alongside cycling.
This app is best suited to people who regularly run or cycle.
Best for downloadable yoga classes: Glo
- Price: free for 7 days, then $24 a month or $245 a year
- Sports included: yoga, meditation, pilates, fitness classes
- iPhone rating: 4.9
- Android rating: 4.1
Users answer a few questions to personalize their experience, and more than 5,000 downloadable classes are available on demand. Teachers worldwide create programs for beginner, intermediate, and advanced practices.
Classes can range from 2–90 minutes long.
A person can also have 1 to 1 sessions with Glo’s Concierge service.
This app is best suited to people who practice yoga.
The company offers a 7-day free trial. After this, a person can pay $24 a month or $245 a year.
Best for a beginner running program: Couch to 5K
- Price: around $4.99
- Sports included: running
- iPhone rating: 4.6
- Android rating: 4.3
This app provides a 9-week running program. It claims that the app can train users to run 5 kilometers in this time by following this training plan.
A person can choose one of four different coaches and listen to their favorite music while using the app, which can also calculate distance and pace using a GPS tracker. Users can share their progress on Facebook.
The app displays pace and distance results in an easy-to-read graph so a person can track their performance.
This app may be best for people new to running who want to build up their fitness.
Best for gamification: Zombies, Run!
- Price: from $5.99–89.99
- Sports included: walking, jogging, running
- iPhone rating: 4.8
- Android rating: 4.5
Zombies, Run! is an immersive running game and audio adventure. A person walks, runs, or jogs while listening to their mission through headphones.
If the mission states that a zombie is chasing the person, they must speed up. People can choose to listen to their music alongside the mission.
There are 200 different missions, and a person can create their own. The first four missions are free, but a person will have to pay a subscription fee for further missions.
A person can choose from a range of subscriptions. This includes a monthly $5.99 fee, a yearly $39.99 fee, or a VIP subscription for $89.99 a year. There is also a legacy subscription for $19.99 a year.
People who register online can view their runs, maps, and statistics.
This app may be best suited to people who want to gamify their exercise to make it more enjoyable.
Best for fundraising: Charity Miles
- Price: free
- Sports included: walking, running, biking, dancing, and more
- iPhone rating: 4.8
- Android rating: 3.0
Charity Miles is an app that helps raise money for good causes. For every mile of physical activity a person completes, the company donates money to their nominated charity. A person can choose from more than 50 charities.
The company claims to have donated more than $2.5 million to date.
People can participate in any physical activity, including walking, dancing, biking, and running.
This app may be best suited to people who want to add an incentive to everyday exercise.
Best for pregnancy and postpartum: Studio Bloom
- Price: free for 7 days, then $29 a month, $74 quarterly, or $240 annually
- Sports included: cardio, stretching, core strengthening
- iPhone rating: 4.8
- Android rating: 4.7
This fitness app aims to meet the needs of pregnant people or those who have recently given birth.
It features over 350 on-demand classes that the company claims are suitable for every stage of parenthood.
The app helps users by offering training for birth and advice on postpartum healing and strengthening. It uses the company’s proprietary method for strengthening the core.
It is accessible on all devices and includes monthly workout calendars and free consultations with pelvic floor physical therapists.
Other features include:
- stretching exercises
- meditation programs
- nutrition support
The app offers many ways for users to connect with other people, including a private Facebook group and a dedicated app for Apple watches.
This app is best for people during and after pregnancy.
Studio Bloom is free for 7 days. It then costs $29 a month, $74 quarterly, or $240 annually.
Best for building fitness habits: Nike Training Club
- Price: free to download and use
- Sports included: cardio, strength training, yoga, HIIT
- iPhone rating: 4.8
- Android rating: 4.4
The Nike Training Club, or NTC, emphasizes helping people set and achieve personal fitness goals.
The app includes access to 480 different workouts and 14 different training programs. While a person must choose one training program at a time, they can add on an unlimited number of on-demand workouts.
The 14 training plans focus on cardio, strength training, yoga, zero equipment workouts, and more. A training plan instructor introduces the plan and shares information and tips, including recipes.
Classes range from 5 minutes to 1 hour and include cardio, HIIT, strength training, yoga, and short workouts.
This app may be best suited to people who want support in building up and sticking to a fitness routine.
The Nike Training Club app is free to download and use.
Best for accessible workouts: Big Fit Girl
- Price: free to download and use for 7 days, then $9.99 a month
- Sports included: weight training, cardio, chair workouts
- iPhone rating: 4.9
- Android rating: 4.8
Designed by fitness coach Louise Green, this app is specifically made to be accessible to people of all weights and fitness levels.
A person can work through beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. People can begin their workouts in a chair if necessary, and the app includes total body, lower body, and upper body workouts, along with weightlifting and cardio routines.
The company website states that it is weight neutral, body-positive, and inclusive. It aims to cater to people of all ages, sizes, and abilities.
In addition to workouts, the app offers:
- monthly live workouts with the founder
- two group coaching calls a month
- access to a community
This app best suits people with higher body weights, disabilities, or those new to exercise.
The Big Fit Girl app is free to download and use for 7 days. After this trial, it costs $9.99 a month.
The table below compares each of the workout apps in this article.
|Best for||Sports included||iPhone rating||Android Rating||Price|
|Runkeeper||tracking a variety of exercises||• walking|
|4.8||4.3||free for basic features|
$39.99 annual membership
|Strava||tracking cycling and running||• cycling|
|4.8||4.6||free for basic features|
|Glo||downloadable yoga classes||• yoga|
• fitness classes
|4.9||4.1||7-day free trial|
|Couch to 5K||beginners running program||running||4.6||4.3||$4.99|
|Zombies, Run!||gamification||• walking|
|4.8||4.5||first four “missions” free|
$19.99 annual legacy
|Charity Miles||fundraising||• walking|
|Studio Bloom||pregnancy||• stretching|
• core strengthening
|4.8||4.7||7-day free trial|
|Nike Training Club||building fitness habits||• cardio|
• strength training
|Big Fit Girl||accessible workouts||• weight training|
• chair workouts
|4.9||4.8||7-day free trial|
A person may wish to speak to a doctor before starting a new exercise program or using a workout app to ensure they are choosing exercises that will be safe for them to do. Working with a doctor can help them pick the most appropriate form of exercise if they have health conditions.
Additionally, a person should warm up and stretch properly before working out. They should also only engage in physical activity when they have the appropriate space and equipment to minimize the risk of injury.
People should always wear comfortable footwear and clothing that provides appropriate support when participating in workouts.
Anyone who becomes dizzy or feels unwell during a workout should stop immediately and get advice from a doctor.
People may also benefit from working out with a personal trainer or joining an in-person class led by a qualified instructor. A personal trainer or class instructor can help a person exercise safely.
Below, we answer the top frequently asked questions about workout apps.
What is the best fitness app out there?
The best fitness app will depend on a person’s exercise goals, ability, and the type of exercise they would like to do.
Quality fitness apps will feature a wide range of workouts, provide classes or guidance from qualified and credible instructors, and be affordable.
Do fitness apps really work?
Research on the effectiveness of fitness apps is mixed. Anecdotal evidence tends to be positive, but scientific studies are yet to conclude whether fitness apps significantly improve health in the general population.
Other studies found that while tracking was the most common feature of these apps, apps that combined exercise education and tracking or turned exercise into a game were more effective.
Is it safe to use fitness apps?
Fitness apps are generally safe, but it is always best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting an exercise program. A person should only follow fitness advice from licensed, credible instructors, and they should follow manufacturer instructions when using new fitness equipment.
Physical activity is important for maintaining a moderate body weight and decreasing the risk of various health conditions.
Many fitness and workout apps are available. Before purchasing an app, a person should check the price, the additional features, and whether the exercises are appropriate for their fitness level.
It is important to exercise safely. Anyone new to exercise may wish to consider speaking with a doctor about the types of exercise suitable for them.