RunKeeper: RunKeeper ($9.99) is a Nike+ app that works with your iPhone. It tracks your runs using the iPhone's GPS radio, and then displays your jogging or walking pace, your distance, and your time. It can even spit out a nice bar graph displaying your speed over a given time period. After your run is over, you can log on to www.runkeeper.com to see your run displayed on a Google map. What didn't RunKeeper's developers think of?
iSpinning: iSpinning is a great (and free) little app for road biking and mountain biking workouts. It uses a growing number of body sensors to track stuff like your heart rate (current, average, and max), biking time, calories burned, speed, distance, and power. You can customize the app's dashboard on your iPhone to display just the metrics you care about.
HangTimer: This $10 app lets snowboarders, skiers, and skateboarders measure their jumps. It identifies the exact length of time they were airborne and the exact GPS location where the jump took place. HangTimer also delivers snow reports, detects ski resorts, and maintains a list of your 10 best jumps.
Quitter: Smoking and fitness, of course, don't mix. The free Quitter app keeps track of the number of days you have not smoked a cigarette, along with the amount of money you've saved by removing cigarettes from your budget.
MP3 Players: The Case for the Shuffle
While your choice of MP3 player is largely a matter of taste, the iPod Shuffle can function as a great, though basic, MP3 player for working out. Advantages #1 and #2: It's really small, and it's easy to clip to almost any piece of clothing you may be wearing. In fact, once you've attached it, you're barely aware that it's there. The weakness of many small players is their deficienct volume output and sound quality. But the Shuffle wins here, too, especially if you upgrade to better headphones from the ones that ship with the player. I use a pair of Sennheiser PX200 over-the-ear phones, which sound great--and loud.
Finally, fitness trainers will tell you that one of the keys to a top-notch workout is "shocking your system." No, the Shuffle won't give you an actual electrical shock, but you'll never know what part of your mix is coming up next on the Shuffle; as a result, the really rocking songs in your mix come up unpredictably, causing an uptick in adrenaline flow and a spike in your performance.
If you don't like running or playing sports of any kind, there's still hope for you, in the form of Dance Dance Revolution, or DDR. What started out as a Japanese arcade game back in 1988 has migrated to the living room and now is one of the most popular gaming genres. It has an obvious aerobic aspect, too: You stand on a dance pad and try to mimic the moves (slides, bumps, grinds, stomps, spins, and shimmies) being executed on the screen while staying on the beat. The game awards you a score based on how well you dance to the music.
There are many versions of DDR with different songs and styles, and most have an "exercise mode" that tracks the number of calories you're burning while you dance. A person weighing 150 pounds burns an average of 16 calories per song while playing the latest Dance Dance Revolution game, the makers say. So a person could burn around 640 calories in one hour of dance-dance-revolting, versus about 500 calories in an hour of jogging.