5 Ways Your Cell Phone Can Help You Get Fit

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By: , – Traci Finlay
2/1/2013 6:00 AM   :  34 comments   :  32,429 Views

The cell phone is an amazing little gadget – one that has become an integral part of our lives. There is nearly no obstacle that we encounter in our day-to-day living that can’t be solved by a quick Google search or a few clicks of an app. It is our cure for boredom, our link to our social circles, and our random photo op accomplice. Yes, the evolution of cell phones in the last ten years has done many things for us – among making us a lazy, technology-dependent society.
 
It’s not that all this convenience at our fingertips is a bad thing, but it definitely doesn’t enforce an active lifestyle. So for those of us who enjoy challenging not only our bodies but also our minds, here are a few ways to use that cell phone to defy those apathetic tendencies and really promote health and fitness.
 
Stop with the games, and download fitness apps.
This one should be a no-brainer. One search of the word “fitness” in your app store will yield over 5,000 results! Everything from calorie trackers to workout programs to weight loss tips is available for free or minimal cost.
 
Download what applies to you. Are you a runner? Get a GPS or pedometer to track your distance; this works even for walking through the mall or strolling through the park, because at the end of the day, who doesn’t like seeing that they walked a total of 5 miles and burned an extra 400 calories without going to the gym? FitBit (which has partnered with SparkPeople) is a great tool and even better when you link it with the RunKeeper app.
 
Do you have a daily workout regimen? Websites such as WeightTraining.com not only allow you to log your workouts, but also plunge you into an entire fitness community by allowing you to compete with and encourage fellow members, view exercise breakdowns, and even ask questions to real trainers. Even if you’re unsure what type of workout you want to follow, the WeightTraining.com app has over 200 certified personal trainer workout plans.
 
Watching what you eat? Diet trackers, calorie counters, and food logs are helpful and easy to use – not to mention will give excellent tips on healthy food alternatives and other educational nutrition facts. The various SparkPeople apps are great for this type of tracking.
 
Plug in your ear buds and enrich your mind while exercising.
Everyone needs a little motivation while working out, so why not download some music to help boost your energy level while lifting weights or running? Listen to your favorite Pandora station to pass the time, or customize your own playlist of songs you know will motivate you (just in case, God forbid, Bruno Mars starts singing “The Lazy Song” on Pandora mid-workout -- a tragedy I don’t wish upon my worst enemy).
 
Not a fan of music? Download an audiobook to listen to while running for distance or spending time on the treadmill. Your time will be up before you know it, and guess what? You’ll be looking forward to your next run to find out what happens to our brave hero!
 
Set a motivational background picture.
Who hasn't cut out pictures of supermodels or athletes and stuck them on the refrigerator or bathroom mirror for motivation? While this is fine for refraining from fridge raiding, what do you look at even more often than the mirror? Your phone. Find an inspirational picture from Google images and set it as your background photo; I guarantee you’ll see that more throughout the day then the wilting cut-out on the fridge or the water-stained clipping in the bathroom. Besides, you can whip your phone out while grocery shopping and hesitating in the baking aisle, or at a restaurant when staring down a server tempting you with a hot fudge cake.
 
Use your alarm to set daily reminders.
Even if you don’t have a smartphone, everyone has an alarm clock on their cell. Set an alarm to remind yourself to take your vitamins. Arrange a few different alarms to prompt you to drink your eight glasses of water a day. And of course – set one for the time that you want to exercise! Nothing gets you off your butt faster than a consistently whining cell phone!
 
Watch videos on how to properly execute difficult movements.
Not all of us can afford a personal trainer to teach us how to effectively lift weights or learn to handle a kettlebell. We might not even have the guts to ask the fella next to us at the gym how a certain machine works. That’s when YouTube is a great source for learning proper form. It is never wise to attempt something that could potentially leave your injured, so make sure you watch a few different reputable how-to videos before trying something new. Both apps and YouTube fitness channels offer step-by-step workout videos that you can carry with you in the palm of your hand.
 
 
The possibilities are endless! Just a little creativity could conjure up whole new ways to make your cell double as your workout partner. Because while the advancement of cell phones has come a long way in the last decade, one thing it can’t do is work out for us…and let’s be honest – regardless of what the future holds in the ever-developing world of technology, no app is going to be able to take on that responsibility. But they might just make it a little easier to get started.
 
How do you use your cell phone as a weight-loss or fitness buddy? What's your favorite fitness, diet or healthy living app?
 
About the Author
Traci Finlay is the marketing and community coordinator of WeightTraining.com.

Besides sharing a close bond with the WeightTraining.com family, she is also a writer, runner, and competitive CrossFitter.

With a bachelor degree in Communication Arts and a minor in English, she combines her passions for writing and fitness by (insert dramatic pause) writing about fitness.


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Comments

  • 34
    Active's Couch to 5k app.... And the Spark People app. Oh and Deltaworks' Interval Timer. - 6/20/2014   4:41:13 PM
  • 33
    Boyfriend downloaded a game on his phone that leads us out and about to claim portals and such. We find an area that is portal heavy and park the car and walk around and have fun playing the game. Even met other players one time at a park and ended up walking with them for a spell. Introduced some friends of ours to it and now as a result they are getting out of the house and walking more. - 2/21/2014   12:38:48 AM
  • 32
    Thanks! - 3/10/2013   5:48:29 AM
  • 31
    Great idess! - 2/25/2013   9:53:27 PM
  • 30
    It was the Sparkpeople food tracker when it was a free app. Now it's Map My Run for tracking the distance of my run and Fitness Buddy for exercises. - 2/7/2013   6:07:34 PM
  • LEECOVELL
    29
    I am amazed that more people do not know about the Nike Training Club App!!!! It is phenomenal AND FREE!! I DO NOT PAY FOR A GYM! Nike Training Club and running. Love Love Love - 2/6/2013   9:46:41 PM
  • TRACIFINLAY
    28
    Amazing feedback! These are all great ideas for some excellent apps. I'm going to look into these other ones you all suggested! Thank you. :) - 2/6/2013   9:02:22 AM
  • 27
    Great blog. I have the sparkpeople app for tracking my fitness and nutrition. I also use the calorieking app to find the nutrition information for items that may not be listed. I have a conversion app for when I can't wrap my mind around the number of grams in a pound and other such measurements. I love the Nike Training Club app for the gazillion fitness routines with videos for proper form included, and I have an interval app for when I am doing my own strength program with cardio combined that I threw together to meet my specific needs for the day. I love pandora for when music is all I need and for when the selection in my own music library bores me. I also use the Directv app on my ipad for catching up on some tv when I walk or run on the treadmill. - 2/5/2013   10:30:52 AM
  • 26
    great blog and thanks for the tips....I use my cell phone for just about every aspect of my working life, and a lot for personal email, FB, twitter, texting, etc. but never even thought about looking at it from a fitness/weight control standpoint. I'm type 2 diabetic too, I'll bet if I start searching, I'll find some apps which can help me out there too. Thanks! - 2/4/2013   2:17:16 PM
  • DIANNEWWOLF
    25
    DRB_1 what Pandora station keeps you moving? I love Pandora! - 2/4/2013   8:30:02 AM
  • 24
    Striiv has a pedometer app for the iphone. You can set up races with friends, try to beat their averages and complete challenges designed to get you moving more. - 2/3/2013   8:27:55 PM
  • 23
    I like running/walking apps and listening to music or audiobooks - 2/3/2013   3:17:36 PM
  • CLEO27
    22
    I have an awesome app on my phone which calculates weight watchers points and activity. I would be lost without my phone. - 2/3/2013   12:12:15 PM
  • MARTY32M
    21
    About cost: I'm an old guy who was pretty much forced into a smartphone. I had a Palm PDA to help my memory, a dumb phone with a cheap plan (Tracfone) for emergency use (like asking my wife what to get in the supermarket), sometimes I carried a camera, and I had another phone with an international plan. I was carrying too many electronics and going nuts trying to keep all their batteries charged.

    I bought an unlocked Android dual-SIM smartphone online and installed one SIM for international service and another for U.S. service from Consumer Cellular. I rarely go overseas, I avoid cellular data and use WiFi, for voice calls I use landline whenever possible, and the bill for U.S. service is usually between $15 and $20 a month.

    With the smartphone I have now entered the amazing new world of free cellphone apps. - 2/3/2013   11:40:54 AM
  • 20
    My phone is not Smart it's an older Blackberry. I used to Spark with it because it has a Browser but when they made changes I wasn't able to use it like a PC. The battery needs to be replaced too so I keep it on a charger. I will replace it this year though but I don't want a smart phone. Don't like touch screens either.
    Great suggestions and in the future I will use a new phone. Thank you! :)) - 2/2/2013   7:55:46 PM
  • 19
    There are many people who cannot afford a Smart phone. I have trouble enough with affording a plain cell phone and internet (in fact, I can't really afford either). But it seems to be completely important that people can afford all these things or they aren't worth having anything to do with. Even on the city team they constantly talk about going to someplace like 24 Hour Fitness. When they want a workout buddy it is always someone from some expensive gym like that. If you go to the city recreation centers and ask if there is anyone that goes there they will completely ignore you because you are nothing but trash. - 2/2/2013   1:20:54 PM
  • 18
    Sad but true... not everyone has a cell phone especially one of the smart ones :( - 2/2/2013   11:04:39 AM
  • 17
    I have a smartphone that I use on WiFi only [don't want to/can't afford to spend $100/month on a phone bill!]. The GPS tracking on fitness apps works even when I'm off a WiFi network, and then I save it once I'm back to my house. Just a tip for those who don't want to spend tons of money on a phone and monthly bill--- you can easily get a secondhand smartphone for fairly cheap, and you don't *have* to have phone service on it to use most of the features as long as you have regular access to WiFi. I ditched my smartphone contract over a year ago and have been doing just fine with WiFi only use.

    I use RunKeeper and Zombies, Run! for my runs, and Endomondo for walking and cycling [I like to keep my running stats completely separate, hence the two apps even though both support running, walking, and cycling along with plenty of other things]. I also now use my phone as my mp3 player when I'm outside running [I still use my ipod at the gym], although it took me a LONG time to embrace that for some reason. I also have a couple apps for pushups and crunches to keep me on track with doing those. And, of course, I have the SparkPeople nutrition tracker [as well as Weight Watchers mobile]. All of these definitely help with my fitness routine. - 2/2/2013   10:40:46 AM
  • 16
    Great information!!! I've been using fitbit and runkeeper for months and never realized I could link them. I just went online and got them linked together and am now even more motivated to use each!!! Thanks for the tip! - 2/2/2013   9:51:00 AM
  • 15
    I find the apps that use the most battery are those that use the GPS radios. I find I still have plenty of battery life for the day (Motorola Droid 2 and Droid X, and Samsung Galaxy S3 are what I've tested) even with two hours of running/cycling. I absolutely love exercise tracking programs. I have a heart rate chest strap and a bicycle cadence/speed sensor that pairs with my phone and use Endomondo and/or SportsTrackLive to track my heart rate, cadence, pace/speed, and GPS location. For running, the phone is my MP3 player; for cycling, it's my GPS navigation system. In all cases, it's also a phone for emergencies and even ID, should something happen. I run with it in a little waist pouch by Amphipod so it's concealed (would-be thieves don't know if my headphones are plugged into something valuable or not), and it gives me voice feedback as I run, telling me my heart rate, pace, and it even becomes a coach, telling me my training intervals.

    As far as cost goes, yes, the phone and service is expensive. But my phone replaces a high quality GPS for my car (nor does it need expensive map subscriptions), a mid-range GPS/HRM watch, or an MP3 player. I'm also able to look up the calorie content of foods while I'm at the restaurant, log them into SparkPeople, and have all this information at the ready when I'm at my doctors' offices to show them accurate information about what I eat and the intensity and duration of how I exercise.

    My husband and son have the expensive exercise watches (and are on their second watch in 2 years), a GPS for their cars (which they don't use any more now that they have smart phones), and an assortment of MP3 players (from cheap to expensive), and a variety of cables and charging devices to keep up with. I have my phone. The apps are free (but I bought the Pro versions for $5 each for more reports) and the HRM strap can be had for $75 or less. The cadence sensor for the bike had to be purchased and is the same as theirs ($50). Seems I've saved about $600 over the last two years by using my phone instead of buying those other gadgets. And yes, the phone apps work just as well as the Garmin and Polar watches (though the phone don't strap to your wrist!), and the GPS system is better, as it is always up to date and has traffic, too. - 2/2/2013   9:41:14 AM
  • 14
    I download motivational posters from Sparkpeople and have them as an album on my phone called "Motivation". The first few pictures are of me, the weekend before I got serious with Spark and the last few pictures are from goal weight many years ago. In between, I've sort of organized them to progress through themes. I can look at the album any time any place. If I turn it into a slideshow, Whitney Huston sings "Give Me One Moment in Time When I'm More than I Thought I Could Be" etc. in the background. - 2/2/2013   8:15:40 AM
  • 13
    Anyone out there tried Zombies, Run? It is a fun app that uses music on your phone to set the pace and the pace changes. You are dropped into a zombie area and you have missions you have to accomplish. You will be walking and listening to the moderator and then ZOMBIES!! RUN!!! and music comes on setting the pace to run. I find it fun. - 2/2/2013   8:03:53 AM
  • 12
    I know I depend on my iphone to help - my fitbit tracker, mapmyfitness for gps tracking and sparkpeople. I've also downloaded a few other ones or saved the actual link to a specific workout set posted in a blog by Coach Nicole as a direct link to open and follow - 2/2/2013   7:59:26 AM
  • 11
    I don't have a cell phone and don't want one. My adult children all have them and pay a LOT of money each month for them. - 2/2/2013   6:51:51 AM
  • TRACIFINLAY
    10
    @MaryJeanSL that's okay -- smart phones aren't for everyone! Regular cell phones are still very versatile (using the alarm, or perhaps the calculator to calculate calories, the timer to time sprints, etc.). The idea is to "think outside the box" when it comes to not-so-ordinary ways to inspire us to become fit. And in this case, to gear all the time and energy we do put into our phones into something positive and uplifting. :) - 2/1/2013   11:10:23 PM
  • MARYJEANSL
    9
    Well, it all sounds very nice...but some of us don't have a smart phone! Don't want one, can't afford one. I spend too much time with my ordinary, not smart, cell phone as it is. - 2/1/2013   10:36:43 PM
  • TRACIFINLAY
    8
    @128PERFECT, the trick to saving your battery life is to close down the app once you're finished using it. We tend to just go back to our home screen and leave the app running in the background. Actually closing it out will do wonders for battery life! So happy you all enjoyed this post! This is an amazing site; everyone keep up the good work! XOXO - 2/1/2013   9:29:33 PM
  • 7
    Pandora, baby! Keeps me moving - 2/1/2013   8:07:54 PM
  • 6
    I use Endomondo to keep track of how far I walk. It offers encouragment as I go, and after I'm done gives me a synopsis of how far I went and what my average speed is. - 2/1/2013   10:33:02 AM
  • GRANDAD09
    5
    My daughter has been struggling with her weight for years, but all of a sudden she is getting a handle on it because of this technology something just "clicked" for her and she is getting it. Whatever it is I am thankful. Good blog. - 2/1/2013   10:26:11 AM
  • 4
    Love my RunKeeper and SparkPeople Apps - couldn't do all of this without them! Great blog! - 2/1/2013   10:05:23 AM
  • 3
    Makes sense - 2/1/2013   9:26:42 AM
  • PHATPATTI
    2
    Great blog. My apps on my iPhone have kept me on track and also I have been training for a 5k with an app. - 2/1/2013   9:05:14 AM
  • 128PERFECT
    1
    If you use these apps does it use a lot of battery life? - 2/1/2013   7:22:17 AM

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