The Best Health and Fitness Apps


Coach presents its stars of the touchscreen with fitness apps, smartwatch apps, healthy eating apps and more

Nick Harris-Fry
5 Aug 2016

There was once a time when the only way a mobile phone would help towards your fitness goals was the challenge of lifting its considerable weight. Today’s smartphones, in contrast, have the ability to be a personal trainer, nutrition coach, tracker, GPS and so much more, all within a frame so svelte you can wear it on an armband. The one downside of this is that there is now such a proliferation of health and fitness apps it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. To aid in that endeavour, here are Coach’s favourites.

Healthcare Apps

Is your doctor going to be replaced by a robot? Probably not, although if you’d told the weavers in the 16th century that they faced mechanical oblivion they’d have woven you an LOL mat, too.

Despite the continued disappointingly fleshy nature of our healthcare professionals, digital diagnosis is on the rise, and with masses of data being gathered by the ever-growing army of personal fitness tracker fans, healthcare apps are only getting better. This is all great news for men, who are twice as likely as women to shirk the doctor and suffer a reduced life expectancy as a result. This emerging industry is, however, currently unregulated, so it’s important to use your phone in symbiosis with, rather than as a replacement for, a professional.

Left to right: Skin Vision, Big White Wall, Dr Now, Your.MD

Skin Vision: Selfies for skin safety

Snap away to skin safety with Skin Vision. Uploading a skin selfie gives you an immediate risk rating based on a comparison to the growing archives of mole photos. The app also keeps track of changes over time to show your doctor, because, honestly, who can remember what that mole on their lower back looked like last month. Free, premium £3.99 monthly, App store and Google Play,

Big White Wall: Judgement-free therapy

With suicide being the leading cause of death in young men, it’s important for help to be as accessible as possible. If face-to-face therapy is daunting, try Big White Wall, an NHS-approved app for therapy on your phone. Guided support courses available range from dealing with depression and anxiety to quitting smoking or losing weight. Free, App store and Google Play,

Dr Now: Instant video consultations

Hauling yourself to a slightly sticky GP’s waiting room filled with wailing infants can sometimes be worse than the illness itself, so thank your favourite deity for Dr Now, an app that offers instant video consultations with approved doctors. For Londoners it can even prescribe and deliver medicine to your door within an hour. £7.99 monthly, App store and Google Play,

Your.MD: AI Symptom checker

The closest we’re going to get to robot doctors in 2016, NHS-recommended Your.MD lets you message an AI that draws on a huge and growing bank of data to diagnose your symptoms and recommend local healthcare centres or pharmacies. It’s ideal for differentiating appendicitis from the windy results of a speedily scoffed dinner. Free, App store and Google Play,

The 20 Best Fitness Apps

1. Strava

Londoners logged 1.35 million activities via the cycling and running tracker Strava in 2015, and the app’s enduring popularity is down to the fact it appeals to all levels of fitness. It’s incredibly simple to use for newcomers, yet offers plenty of depth with a huge array of data for those happy to while away hours analysing their exercise. Strava’s huge community of users also instantly provides a wealth of virtual friends and rivals to compete against. You can aim to nab the King of the Mountain (virtual) jersey for your local hill, or enter the regular challenges for both running and cycling. Free, pro £4.49 monthly, App Store, Google Play and Windows Phone Store,

2. Zombies, Run!

The ultimate in running gamification, Zombies, Run! plunges you into a world where the undead run amok and you are the key to humanity’s survival. Each run is one of 200 missions where you attempt to gather supplies for your base in a bid to rebuild civilisation. The strength of Zombies, Run! is in the combination of an immersive story with an incredibly sleek app, all of which helps distract from any pain in your legs. There are four missions available in the free version, plus a new free mission each week. For those who can’t wait that long, the premium subscription unlocks everything. Free, pro £2.29 monthly, or £14.99 annually, App Store and Google Play,

3. Sworkit

Circuit training is an appealing idea, but for many people compiling a list of exercises to ensure a comprehensive workout is too much like hard work. Fortunately, SWORKIT has oodles of bodyweight exercises built in to the app, with pre-set routines that let you choose whether you want to focus on strength, cardio, yoga or stretching, and which parts of the body, if not all of it, you want to target.

On-screen animations guide you through every step of your workout, which can be set to last from five minutes to an hour. And once you have become a circuit training buff, you can use the exercise bank to build your own session from scratch. Free, pro £2.29 monthly, App Store and Google Play,

4. Runtastic Six Pack Abs Workout

There are umpteen different abs exercises, and this app combines them into quick, easy-to-follow core workouts you can do anywhere. Free, pro £3.99, App Store, Google Play and Windows Phone Store,

5. C25K

Aimed at the first-time runner, C25K’s eight-week plan involves 30 minutes a day, three days a week, and can transform anyone from couch potato to 5km finisher. Free, pro £1.49, App Store and Google Play,

6. Fit Radio

Soundtrack your workout with playlists designed to ensure you give 110% (or a less clichéd yet equally impressive amount of effort) every time. Fit Radio has mixes for every kind of activity, and will detect your running pace automatically to match up with the beat. Free, pro £2.99 monthly, App Store and Google Play,


A world of fitness awaits, with almost every street in London boasting at least one studio you had no idea existed. The MINDBODY app has tabs on them all, and lets you search by class type and location. Free, App Store and Google Play,

8. FitNet

This app contains almost 200 workouts, each of them designed by a personal trainer. However, what sets it apart is that it uses your phone, tablet or laptop camera to track your movement and provide feedback on how closely you’re mirroring the trainer’s demands. Free, App Store and Google Play,

9. Gymaholic

A comprehensive workout aid for those who commit plenty of time to the weights room. The library
of exercises can be used in a set of workout plans for all abilities, or you can build your own custom routine. Free, pro £2.99, App Store,

10. Health

Chances are you spotted Apple’s Health app when you first set up your phone, tracked your steps for a couple of days, then forgot about it. This was a mistake, because it can record a lot more than steps, and speaks to other apps to collate everything you’re tracking in one place. Free, App Store,

11. Speedo Fit

Due to its inherent wetness, swimming is not the easiest activity to log with an electronic tracker. Speedo Fit is the best solution to this problem. Simply find the pool you swam at on the app, tell it how many lengths you did, and it will sync the data with your phone’s health app. Beyond that, Speedo Fit also provides goals based on bodies of water around the world, so you can know how many laps of your local pool it will take to swim the length of the Panama Canal. Free, App Store,

12. Charity Miles

Ramp up the endorphin rush you get at the end of exercise by adding in the warm glow of knowing you’ve made a difference, however small. For every mile you walk, run or cycle with Charity Miles, corporate sponsors will donate money to a charity of your choice. Free, App Store and Google Play,

13. Nike+ Running

An excellent standalone running app, which features accurate tracking, coaching, and a huge community of users ready to encourage and compete with you. Free, App Store and Google Play,

14. Runcast

This nifty app provides all the weather information relevant to your run, so you can dress appropriately, or even delay heading out until the skies clear. £0.79, App Store,

15. Twilight

Blue light from a screen before bedtime can affect sleep, but going to bed without the electronic devices that leak the stuff is a step too far for many people. Instead of leaving your phone in the kitchen, you could download Twilight, which automatically covers your screen with a warm red filter once dusk falls. Free, pro £2.99, Google Play,

16. StrongLifts 5x5

Simplicity is the key to this strength-training app’s success. It breaks down exactly what exercises to do, including the amount of reps, sets and weight, making it easy to measure your progress over time. Free, £7.99 for Power Pack, App Store and Google Play,

17. Bounts

Tracking your activity with this app results in tangible rewards, in the shape of “bounts” – points you can use to get all kinds of goodies, including cinema tickets and store vouchers. Free, pro £9.99 annually, App Store and Google Play,

18. The Walk

The Walk puts you at the centre of a plot where you have to plod the length of the UK carrying a package that could save the world. The adventure spans 500 miles, 65 episodes and 800 minutes of audio, so should keep you walking for a while. £2.29, App Store and Google Play,

19. Komoot

Set out for the great outdoors safe in the knowledge you won’t get lost thanks to Komoot’s offline maps, which include suggested routes for hikers and bikers. Free, £6.99 per extra map region, App Store and Google Play,

20. Geocaching

Head outside and join the world’s largest treasure hunt, seeking geocaches – small packages hidden by other users. It’s addictive, and will take you to some surprising places. Free, pro £7.99, App Store, Google Play and Windows Phone Store,

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