March 25, 2011 -- With the cold weather behind us and warm weather on its way, wouldn't it be nice to get in shape in time for summer?
Sure, you could an enlist a trainer to help you out. But first, you might want to turn to the one in your pocket: your smartphone. It's the one thing you have with you all the time and, considering all the fitness apps that can help you lose weight, tone up and eat healthier, you might as well make good use of it.
Below, take a look at five of the top fitness apps for your smartphone.
Like a digital diary of calories eaten and calories burned, Lose It! helps you create a diet plan and then stick to it. You just enter your weight, height, age and sex and then let the app know your goal weight. The app sets up a daily budget to help you reach your goal at a rate you decide.
As you eat and exercise each day, you tell the app the calories in and the calories out and the app monitors your progress to help you stay on track. You even can create recipes and share you information with friends.
Lost It! is available for free for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, and it's coming soon to Android.
Available only for Android users, CardioTrainer takes full advantage Android phones' beautiful screens and GPS technology. It's one of the most popular free fitness apps in the Android Market and it's easy to set up.
After you enter your weight, height and other key information (so that it can figure out your calories burned), you just start your workouts.
Like several of the fitness apps, it uses your phone's GPS to map where you've been, but it also has a pedometer to record your progress is case you lose your GPS signal.
In addition to running, you can use CardioTrainer for biking, walking, rollerblading, and a bunch of other activities.
The app uses a built-in music player, so you have access to all your playlists while you're exercising, and it includes a free calorie counter to help you keep track of your daily food intake.
If you want a cheerleader, the app even provides verbal encouragement as you work out. When you're done with a session, you get a calorie count of how much you've burned, as well as a food example of how much that is.
For example, after a morning walk, it might tell you that you've walked off two strawberries.
The app also wants you to share information with Facebook friends, so if you're not interested you'll want to disable it pronto.
From a company called MapMyFitness, IMapMy is a free fitness-tracking application for Apple products, Android phones and BlackBerrys that uses your phone's built-in GPS monitor all of your fitness activities.
You can record your workout details, including duration, distance, pace, speed, elevation, calories burned and route traveled on an interactive map. The app lets you sync with a heart-rate monitor to save and upload your workout data to the MapMyFitness website.
The company also offers specific similar apps for running, riding, walking, hiking. You can sync with a heart-rate monitor to save and upload your workout data to the MapMyFITNESS website.
Share the details of your fitness activities with friends and family via e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter. You can sign up for the free version or pay $4.99 for an ad-free version that also stores more rides and statistics.
A great one for newbies, this app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, which is backed by the Web-based fitness community DailyBurn, helps you manage your diet, fitness and exercise.
But what makes it especially helpful is its ability to make a training plan, complete with detailed instructions on how to properly perform a given exercise.
You can tailor your plan based on your goals: weight loss, cardio training, muscle building, etc. Once you begin working out, you can track your exercises on the go, and select your favorite ones for a custom workout.
Data from your phone is automatically synced to the website for analysis and tracking. It will also track your daily caloric intake to help you meet your weight loss goals.
If you're willing to upgrade for a fee, you can use a food scanner to access the food database, with more than 350,000 foods. Once you scan the barcode, it provides pictures and full nutrition information.
If you're looking for an app that might help you shop and eat a little more healthfully, check out Fooducate. Sure, you already read food labels, but Fooducate helps you figure out what they mean, and whether or not the product is up to snuff, nutritionally.
Simply scan the product's barcode and it will return the name, a grade and the methodology behind the grade.
It also offers another helpful feature: It shows you how your item compares to other items.
For instance, if you scan your favorite yogurt, it might tell you that it scores a B+ and is a good source of calcium. Under "alternatives," it might also show you which brands score even higher and why.
So this app might let you know that when a food item claims to be "organic" or "all-natural," it also has excessive sugar and sodium, or controversial food colorings.
The app also boasts a compare feature that lets you scan two products side by side. If a product doesn't scan, you can enter the numbers manually. It's available for the iPhone and the company says it has more than 200,000 unique food products so far.