The integration of technology with health and fitness has meant that the smartphone has become a key tool in helping us achieve our goals. There are so many apps available, though, that it can be challenging to know which ones are worth downloading. That’s why we’ve ventured into the health and fitness app market to help you separate the best from the rest.
In this article, we’ll identify the best health and fitness apps in six categories …
- Best Workout App Overall: FitBit
- Best Workout App for Android: Apple Fitness+
- Best Strength Training App: Stronglifts 5 x 5
- Best Nutrition App: Yummly
- Best Sleep App: Whoop
- Wellness App: Calm
These only cover a small range of apps for fitness training, however, these are some of the best ones on the market.
Best Workout App Overall: FitBit
The FitBit app has been around for a long time and remains extremely popular. You do need a FitBit device to use the app, but if you’re into monitoring your fitness progress, the dual investment will be well worth it.
The FitBit app is an all-encompassing health and fitness app. It will tell you what your total activity level and the total calories burned are, analyze your sleep quality, indicate your stress and anxiety level, and even give a readiness score for the demands of your day. The app will even record your total water and nutrient intake.
When you take up the pro-membership offer, you get access to the app’s range of workout videos, as well as meditation sessions. There are also meal and recipe suggestions and you can participate in guided programs to improve a range of aspects of health and wellness.
There is a thriving FitBit community and this app allows you to plug into it. There you’ll be able to benefit from the community spirit and the experience of other fitness enthusiasts.
If you’re wanting just one health and fitness app that covers all four key areas of workouts, nutrition, sleep, and wellness, then the FitBit app is the way to go.
FitBit Premium is priced at $9.99 per month or $80 for an upfront 12-month payment.
Best Workout App for Apple: Apple Fitness+
During the pandemic lockdown, millions of people turned to Apple Fitness+ as their saving grace when they weren’t able to get to the gym. This app features hundreds of workouts across a wide range of training platforms. These include dance, rowing, cycling, HIIT workouts, and pilates.
The trainers who feature on this app are fun to work with. Their engaging personalities shine through, making it that little bit easier to push yourself. Each workout also includes modifications for those who need to tailor the workout to make it a little bit easier.
The Apple Fitness+ app comes with a number of add-ons. These include meditation practices, as well as the celebrity time to talk feature, which includes such guest speakers as Prince William and Sean Mendes.
The app allows you to get a summary of all your different stats and trends at the completion of each workout. It’s also updated weekly, keeping you up to date and constantly providing new and different workout options to keep you enthused.
When you become a subscriber to this app, you can share it with your family members, provided that you have enabled family sharing on your Apple account.
Unfortunately, Apple Fitness Plus is only accessible through Apple devices. You also need to have an Apple Watch Series 3 or above.
Apple Fitness+ membership costs $9.99 per month or $79.99 for an upfront annual payment.
Best Strength Training App: Stronglifts 5 x 5
The Stronglifts 5 x 5 app is a focused simple app that is based on the popular 5X5 strength training system. This workout program, and the app that mirrors it, is based on doing 5 sets of 5 reps on the following five key exercises:
- Bench press
- Overhead press
- Bent Over Row
There are just two workouts on the app. You alternate between them three times per week. On one day you do squats, deadlifts, and the overhead press. The next workout has you back to squats, and the bench press, with the addition of the bent-over row.
The app provides you with guidance on your weight and the progressions you should make each workout. The free version of the app includes videos to help you perfect your form. If you choose to pay for the Pro version, you will also get access to guided warm-ups, a resistance progression calculator, assistance exercises, and the ability to export workout data.
When you download the Stronglifts app, you get access to the Pro version for 7 days. After that, you will have to pay a $48.99 subscription to retain the premium features.
If you are in the market for a home gym machine then check out Strong Home Gym’s research here.
Best Nutrition App: Yummly
Yummly provides you with a plethora of recipes from around the world based on different cooking styles. For each dish, you are provided with a complete ingredient list, recipe, and a breakdown of all the nutrition facts. A cool extra is that you can scroll down to read reviews of the meal from other Yummly users.
This app also provides you with easy-to-follow and professionally produced cooking tutorials. The app also allows you to plan your meals for the week. When you add a meal from the recipes on the app, the ingredients are instantly added to a grocery list right there on the app.
Yummly does not allow you to record the macronutrient breakdown of every food you eat like you can on MyFitnessPal. Many people, though, find it impractical and joy-sapping to log everything they eat. Several studies suggest that calorie counting with an app may increase the risk of developing an eating disorder.
The Yummly app costs $9.99 per month or an upfront cost of $29.99 for a 12-month membership. They also offer a free trial period.
Check out our review of the best health apps on the market right now.
Best Sleep App: Whoop
While it is not a stand-alone device (you need to have a Whoop device to benefit from its features), the Whoop app does an excellent job of monitoring your sleep diagnostics. It will track your overall sleep performance, time spent in bed awake versus sleeping, and the frequency of sleep interruptions. The app also gives a score for your sleep efficiency.
The Whoop app has a recovery tracking feature that analyzes your heart rate variability, resting heart rate, quality of sleep, and respiratory rate. This data is then collated to provide you with a collective recovery score out of 100.
The app also includes a sleep coach feature, which will guide you to a better night’s sleep. It will provide a suggested time to go to bed and the ideal amount of sleep you need to fully recover from the previous day. Smart alarms sync with your Whoop armband to wake you up when you’ve reached your optimal sleep time.
A final cool feature of the Whoop app is the performance assessment. This provides you with weekly and monthly overviews of your sleep performance. This will help you to pinpoint the habits and behaviors that you need to develop to optimize the quantity and quality of your sleep.
Whoop has just recently added a year-in-review feature so you can get a complete 12-month overview.
Whoop offers the following membership pricing options:
- 24 month membership = $32 per month
- 12 month membership = $40 per month
- Monthly membership = $48 per month
Are you interested in developing a health and wellness app? Check out the four biggest mistakes to avoid.
Best Wellness App: Calm
Calm is a meditation and wellness app. It has gained a lot of popularity in a short time, challenging the biggest player in space, Headspace.
Calm provides you with a large variety of meditations designed to help you to become more focused, productive, and happy. There are also meditations designed to reduce stress levels and promote better relationships.
Unlike most meditation apps, Calm also features a sleep enhancement section. It includes stories to help you get to sleep that is narrated by such celebrities as Lebron James and Edris Alba. There is also a wide range of background music for your meditation sessions, including instrumentals and movie soundtracks.
For those who are new to the whole concept of meditation, there is a 30-day Learn to Meditate program.
The Calm app costs $14.99 per month. You can also make an upfront payment of $69.99 for a 12-month subscription. Calm also offers a 7-day free trial.
Health and Wellness apps will not, in themselves, make you fitter and healthier. They can, though, tell you how your body is responding so you can optimize your performance. The best apps will also guide you to the habits that will help you to be better, fitter, and stronger. The five apps that we’ve covered in this article are the best that the market has to offer.
Check out our analysis of the most common myths and misconceptions about Healthcare apps.
Levinson CA, Fewell L, Brosof LC. My Fitness Pal calorie tracker usage in the eating disorders. Eat Behav. 2017 Dec;27:14-16. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2017.08.003. Epub 2017 Aug 18. PMID: 28843591; PMCID: PMC5700836.