Do you want to stay fit and healthy so that you can do whatever it is that gets you up in the morning? Well, since our carry-on backpacks limit the amount of work-out equipment we can take, we use the following health and fitness apps.
Strava is a website and mobile application used to track athletic activity via GPS and is my favourite fitness application. I have been using it since 2013. I record my runs using a Garmin Forerunner® 235 watch, upload the activity from the device, and then analyse and compare my data against my previous results (which I was obviously not able to do before I used Strava so it gives me a nice set of statistics to refer to). I also used Strava to track my son Benjamin Ryken‘s progress when we were both preparing for the TCS New York City Marathon in 2016.
For me, Strava is like Facebook for athletes. It allows me to follow other’s training output and race results, and it has enabled me to connect with fellow athletes around the world. Since the beginning of our Minimalist Journey, I have run with:
- Miguel BERNAL in Toronto, CANADA – Activity
- Kevin ABRASZEK in New York, USA – Activity
- Pablo ANDRADE in Quito, ECUADOR – Activity.
Each of them has taken me on a local route in their city. It has always been enjoyable to connect with local runners and it has given me experiences that I wouldn’t have had running on my own.
You can give Strava’s equivalent to a Facebook Like (called Kudos) and can comment on training efforts of athletes you follow. This way, I can support the efforts of fellow athletes via Strava, and vice versa, I receive lots of encouragement from athletes who follow me. At the moment, I follow 450 people on Strava, more than the number of friends I have on Facebook.
I also use Strava to track how much mileage I do in my running shoes. Being susceptible to injuries, I generally try to replace my shoes after 500-600 kilometres. Strava records the distance and provides a prompt when I need to replace my shoes.
Strava is free for the majority of the features it offers, although when I was working full time, I opted for the paid version which provided more in-depth statistics. While supporting most individual sports, it is designed primarily for cyclists and runners but does cater for 30 other activity types as well. You can add photos to the activity, which I generally do when I am running in a new city or area.
Another key fitness application, The YogaStudio app allows Sandra and I to practice yoga wherever we are. It includes 65 ready-made yoga classes with HD video, is easily customisable and tracks our progress/ activities. With over 280 poses with detailed advice and instructions, it means that if I follow them correctly, I’ll get a great workout.
Like Strava, it also integrates with Apple HealthKit to track calories burned and workouts.
Depending on our mood and enthusiasm, we choose our level (beginner, intermediate or advanced), duration (15, 30 or 60 minutes) and focus (strength, flexibility, relaxation, balance or combination) to find the perfect class for that day.
All we now need is a super light yoga mat… if you can recommend one, let me know.
Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout
Sandra uses the Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout® App as an easy and simple way to work out anywhere, anytime. All she needs is her phone and some work out clothes (and a bed, chair or stairs for some exercises like tricep dips or step ups).
The app has 72 exercises and 22 additional workouts that can be customized and modified to create more than 1,000 variations to help keep her motivated.
Sandra usually only does one circuit at a time, but it is possible to do up to three. The circuit starts with a warm-up (which you can skip if you are warmed up already), followed by the workout (7 minutes+), and you finish with a cool-down (again you can skip that if you wish)… all in all, you don’t need to set more than 15min aside (preferably daily). Even with the busiest job or most exciting travel adventure, this should be possible.
The app provides excellent short instruction videos for each exercise to maximise workout benefits and avoid injuries. Once a workout is completed, the app logs the session so you can keep track of your progress. You could even share it with your friends/followers via Facebook or Twitter.
Exercising regularly is only one part of the equation. Equally if not more important is nutrition, so we use MyFitnessPal to record what we eat and our exercises.
Being on the road, we often eat foods that differ from the food we used to routinely eat at home. Being out and about all day also means we sometimes forget to take in sufficient fluids. With the app, we can record our food and fluid intake which helps to ensure we drink enough and eat a balanced diet.
We don’t record both our workouts and nutritional intake all the time, but it’s especially useful when we want to reach a certain goal, for example, build muscle or lose weight. The app lets us enter our current and goal weight and our activity level and calculates how many Kilojoule we can eat per day to reach our goal. We then record what we eat and drink throughout the day and what exercises we do to burn those Kilojoules. It’s eye-opening once we see how quickly main meals and small snacks add up to our daily allowance (especially if you don’t exercise). If you have digital scales at home, the app may even integrate with them (it did with our Withings scale). This way, you don’t have to enter your actual weight manually to keep track of your weight loss. We don’t obviously. The app also integrates with a number of fitness devices, including Fitbit, Garmin, Jawbone, and other apps, for example, Apple HealthKit, Strava, MapMyRun / Walk / Ride / Fitness. Again, this saves you having to enter the workouts manually.
I have also just downloaded Meditation Studio app, the sister app for Yoga Studio. I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, but I am looking forward to getting back into meditating more with its help.
While all the apps above help us stay motivated and allow us to record data on our journey, nothing motivates us more than wanting to stay healthy to be able to continue to do what we love.