Most bluetooth heart rate monitors will pair with any of these apps, though the ones from Wahoo, Zephyr, and Polar all make claims to work with most any device, as well as their own native apps (Wahoo Utility – Wahoo Fitness). A smart shopper will spend between $50-$100 on a chest strap bluetooth heart rate monitor. Any less than this, and it’s been my experience that the quality of the unit can be in question. More expensive than that, your looking more into the professional athlete’s gear.
Realize, of course, that there are quite inexpensive wrist worn heart rate monitors that simply track your heart rate directly into a wrist worn, watch-like monitor. These are very useful for instant feedback about what’s going on inside your chest, but are usually limited by not pairing with a smart phone. As you’ll see below, this pairing with a smartphone opens up a litany of possibilities for tracking your progress through not only heart rate, but calories, pace, and even motivation.
For this post we’re going to focus on a few Android/iOS Apps that offer well rounded data tracking and sync well with multiple heart rate monitors.
There are scores of heart rate monitor apps out there, and we could easily spend the next 100 days reviewing each one in turn! Instead, we’re going to give three of our favorites, and give you a chance to chime in! The more suggestions the merrier!
Off we go!
Many of us have been using the app My Fitness Pal for tracking calories & macro-nutrients for quite some time. True, if your really good about being paleo, then these things tend to line up with less effort, but tracking can also be both fun and informative. My Fitness Pal has a sister app called Map My Fitness.
The greatest thing about this app is that it melds with your My Fitness Pal dashboard, so that all of your calories and activities are in the same place. Basically, it’s convenient. There’s also some great sharing options for sharing your workouts through Facebook, Twitter and the like. There are a lot of fun tools to play with here, and it’s set up to relate your workout directly to an activity, whether that is in the gym or on the pavement.
iCardio from DigiFit (iOS/Android)
iCardio is a simpler, yet still very useful app with a focus on heart rate. It works with most bluetooth enabled heart rate monitors. While providing instant feedback on how your workout is going, including your heart rate and calories burned, it links up with other apps for sharing that sweet information. You also have the option to log other info that has a bearing on your health and wellness. The app can do this partially by linking up with devices other than a dedicated heart rate monitor, like the Nike’s Fitbit or Jawbone’s UP. Both of these devices are worn on the wrist throughout the day and help to measure things like general activity & movement. If worn throughout the night, they can even get a read on your sleep patterns!
A cool little side feature of iCardio is the in-App camera that encourages you to take a pic of the scenery or sweaty mess to not only remind you of your workout, but to encourage you to share your workout with friends via Facebook or Twitter. Nothing helps motivation more than having your Facebook buddies chime in with a “Good job!!”
Runtastic is, of course, focused on running, but also has settings based on other activities as well. Music and audio selection seem to be a focus on Runtastic’s app. It encourages you to pick a playlist to workout/run to and even has you pick a “Powersong” for an extra boost of awesomeness when needed! After your workout, you’re automatically brought to a little review page, where you’re invited to take a pic, and record how the workout went with a series of smiley faces (super fun!) as well as leaving a note for yourself about how it all went down.
Runtastic seems to have a focus on motivation with an interesting setting called “Story Running” which is a mix of voice coaching and story telling as you run. The songs are motivating as well as the voice motivating you as you go. It takes you into your own imagination to keep your mind occupied and thinking in the positive, instead of focusing on the misery! Sometimes you’ll be done with a 30 minute run before you know it!
All in all, any of these apps can really help you to get more fun and useful feedback on how your training is going. They will all provide great information to reflect upon yourself, or to share with a coach or friends. The decision over which app to get to help motivate you to continue with your fitness journey will be a personal one and all of the apps metioned here have free versions that can be downloaded and experienced to help in your decision making.
Do you have a favorite workout/activity tracking app? We’d LOVE to hear about it! Tell us why you like yours the best, and why we should too!