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5 apps to help you reach your fitness goals

Are you the competitive type? Try these fun and cool apps to reach your goals

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fitness apps

The motivation you need to get moving

What if our civilization was threatened by zombies and depended on you going on your morning run? Or what if you could unlock a mystery treasure chest by taking the stairs instead of the elevator? It might just provide the push you need to stay on track with your fitness or weight-loss goals.

Dozens of new apps are embracing “gamification”-the concept of using game elements (fictional worlds, competition, rules and rewards) on your mobile device to meet real-life weight-loss, toning or endurance goals. By instantaneously rewarding fitness act­ivity, game-driven apps give you the payoff you need, whether it’s a chance to explore a new virtual world or move up the leaderboard. Here are five fitness game apps to try.

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running winter

Nike+ Running

Works on: Android and Apple mobile devices

Cost: Free

Who it’s for: Runners-from the light jogger to the marathon junkie

How it motivates you: The Nike+ Running app tracks runs and records your time, speed and distance using GPS (for outdoor runs) or the movement-tracking accelerometer found on most smartphones (for indoor runs). Based on these indicators, the app suggests goals for you, such as running a 5K, running three times a week or beating your fastest speed. You can also see how your mileage ranks against your friends’.

Share your runs on Facebook, and you’ll hear live cheering from your phone when a friend “likes” an update. Plus, voice feedback gives you live updates about how far you have run or how much closer you are to meeting your goal.

This app lets you see your running progress right away, as opposed to the weeks it might take before you see any movement on your scale. Burned cal­ories are tracked based on your weight and height, and a bar graph shows how long you have run each day.

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fitness

Fitocracy

Works on: Your web browser, Android and Apple mobile devices

Cost: Free

Who it’s for: Gym buffs and Type-A personalities

How it motivates you: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Miss America 2013, Mallory Hagan, swear by this app, and it is a great tool for those who take their fitness regimen seriously.

First, choose from a list the exercises you will do-such as running, dumbbell side bends or triceps curls-and then add in the number of reps, weight and/or duration. Based on the difficulty of the exercises for someone of your height and weight, Fitocracy calculates and awards you points every time you work out.

As you gain more points, you get to try out new “quests”-you can choose from a list of dozens of exercises, including performing 100 jumping jacks or holding a plank for 30 seconds. You also earn virtual badges, which serve as visual reminders of the hard work you have done. In addition, you can compete for points with your friends or other online users.

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Zombies, Run!

Zombies, Run!

Works on: Android and Apple mobile devices

Cost:
$4

Who it’s for: Thrill-seeking runners and zombiephiles

How it motivates you: Every time you run, you embark on a new 30-minute or hour-long mission in your quest to save Abel Township, the game’s last bastion of civilization in a post-apocalyp­tic zombie-run world. As you hit distance intervals tracked by your phone’s GPS, you get to pick up supplies, such as cans of food, bandages and clothing. You can also rescue people, and after you sprint for a minute or two from hordes of zombies-to motivate you even more, they get louder if you slow down-you’ll learn the truth about the zombie apocalypse. Meanwhile, sound effects such as helicopters and screams get your adrenalin pumping.

Another great motivator of Zombies, Run! is that you get to watch your progress in building up Abel Township over the long term. Over many runs, you will watch as the aerial view of the community changes from a few dilapidated buildings to a green community with a hospital, school and power plant. Thanks to your heroic efforts, the population of the community will also increase. Take that, zombies!

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running race

Fleetly

Works on: Apple mobile devices

Cost: Free

Who it’s for: Those who want a customized workout routine with the click of a button

How it motivates you: Fleetly gives you points and medals for completing exercises, lets you track your workouts over time, and shows you where you rank in leaderboards of other users you identify as “friends.” You can also reach various levels: For example, Level 5 means you’re running about seven miles (11.3 km) a week, while Level 10 means you’re vigorously exercising a few times a week.

Once you choose a body target, such as abs or biceps, you are prompted to do different exercises, complete with photos and videos that provide instruction. Much like a personal trainer, the app will take you through a full routine and give you tips as you go along.

 

Fleetly also helps you set long-term goals. You can either choose from a list, including “Run 500 miles in 2014,” or make up your own.

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waterfall

MyLand

Works on: Apple mobile devices

Cost: Free for the app; $70 if you buy the Striiv Play Wireless Smart Pedometer

Who it’s for: Animal lovers and those who get their exercise through daily activities

How it motivates you: MyLand, from Striiv, is a mystical island with a flowing waterfall, exotic plants, centaurs, dragons, tigers and more, but it starts out foggy and empty. The more stairs and steps you register, the more “energy points” you get. (Steps are tracked through your phone’s accelerometer or, more accurately, through Striiv’s add-on pedometer, which also tracks stair steps.) With these points, you can “buy” different kinds of plants, build a fairy forest and open up the island’s lowlands or highlands for development. What’s nice about MyLand is that you can customize your island with animals and plants.

For long-term motivation, some of the game’s quests, such as unlocking mystery boxes or building a Greek villa, require energy points that take days or even weeks to build up.

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