Spring has sprung! Well, actually, spring is still cowering in a corner like a frightened little girl, at least around these parts. But the day is coming when we’ll want to shed our parkas in favor of shorts, t-shirts, and even bathing suits.
I don’t know about you, but I spent most of this winter eating like a bear who forgot to hibernate. Consequently, I’ve got some extra pounds that need removal. Thankfully, I’ve also got a smartphone.
Plenty of apps can help with this challenge; my favorites include MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper, which have proven indispensable in recent years.
However, sometimes you need a little extra incentive, or at least a way to shake up your regular routine. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for apps that make fitness and weight-loss more fun, if not downright profitable. Here are three of the latest that can help you health yourself.
Formerly GymPact, this app rewards you with actual cash for maintaining a healthy lifestyle–and penalizes you if you miss the mark.You start by setting up a food, gym, or veggie “pact.” Respectively, these challenge you to log your daily food intake (using the aforementioned MyFitnessPal), eat a set amount of fruits and veggies per week, and hit the gym (or get other exercise) on a routine basis.
You don’t pay anything up front, but you do agree to penalty charges for failing to meet your goals. So, for example, if you pledge to eat 10 servings of veggies per week, and manage to do so, you’ll earn about $2. But if you miss your goal, you’ll be charged a minimum of $5. (You can set any penalty amount in $5 increments.)
That’s how Pact works: reward money comes from people who fail to hit their goals. Even though there’s not a ton of money at stake here, research has shown that when cash is on the line, people are more likely to stick to diet and exercise goals. But obviously some won’t make it, hence the pool of payout cash. Bad for them, good for you!
Speaking of putting your money where your cake-hole is, DietBet connects you with friends and/or strangers for another cash-powered challenge.
It works like this: Sign up for an existing bet or create one of your own. The buy-in is usually around $25-35, though you can set any price if you’re the one starting the bet.
From there you have four weeks to lose four percent of your body weight using whatever method works best for you. (There’s also a new six-month option with a 10-percent goal, but I recommend starting with “DietBet 4″ first.) Do that and you share the jackpot with any other bettors who also reach the goal. The DietBet app (iOS) helps you track the bet, post updates, record your weight, and so on.
I did a couple DietBets last year and found them far more motivating than any other weight-loss tool I’ve ever tried. I ended up sharing the jackpot with lots of others, so the net gain was only a few bucks–but the net loss was even sweeter.
7 Minute Workout
Last year the New York Times published an article about an interval workout promising maximum fitness benefits with just seven minutes of activity. Crazy, right?
Wrong. The article was based on an American College of Sports Medicine study, which found that by performing strategic body-weight exercises for 30 seconds, with 10 seconds of rest in between, you could get the same results you would from hours of running or biking.
I’m a pretty fit guy, but after that seven minutes, I felt like I’d spent half an hour in the gym. In short, it was a great workout. And the free 7 Minute Workout app (iOS) gives you video and text descriptions of each exercise and a voice-prompted timer to run you through it. (There’s a similar app for Android, but without the videos.)
Have you found another fitness-minded app that’s rewarding and/or motivating? Tell me about it in the comments!