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21 Best Health and Fitness Apps for Mind, Body & Budget (Free or Cheap)

What is your health worth to you? Can you put a dollar value on your physical and mental well-being?

Many people either can’t answer these questions or just don’t want to. Health is a valuable thing – so valuable we have trouble ascribing tangible value to it. Without health, nothing else – including money – really matters.

The world’s tech entrepreneurs know this better than anyone. Since the advent of the smartphone, they’ve been hard at work devising free or low-cost apps promoting mental and physical health from a dizzying array of angles. Some of their creations act as automated personal trainers. Others offer real-time or delayed therapy and relationship advice. Still others track exercise and body metrics with impressive accuracy.

These free or affordable health and fitness apps aren’t cure-alls, of course. And most aren’t reliable substitutes for professional advice or training or even for gym memberships. However, all offer real value: positive motivation, friendly advice, new ideas, or more actionable data than you know what to do with. Whether you need a firm push to get up off the couch or a fresh perspective on an emotional rut, these apps can help.

Best Health & Fitness Apps

There are thousands of fitness and health apps out there. The apps on this list share the following characteristics:

  • Popularity. Widespread use – usually more than one million downloads
  • Comprehensiveness. Numerous features or functions
  • Cost. Low out-of-pocket cost – most apps are free or cost only a couple of dollars to download
  • Value. Higher-priced apps must deliver clear value, such as professional advice or extensive personalization

Each listing notes the app’s cost and operating system compatibility. Note that free apps are often ad-supported, so expect some in-app advertising unless otherwise noted.

This list divides apps into broad categories, though there is some unavoidable overlap. For example, certain calorie-counting apps also have exercise-tracking components.

Exercise and Fitness

These apps help you get the most out of your workout and exercise routines and reach ambitious fitness goals without getting sidetracked.

1. MapMyFitness

  • Cost: Standard version is free; MVP Membership is $5.99 per month or $29.99 per year
  • Operating System: iOS and Android

MapMyFitness is a fitness app that collects and stores workout data: distance traveled, speed, mile/kilometer pace, elevation change, duration, calories burned, and route. You can view this information on your phone’s screen during or after your workout.

To track your progress toward fitness goals, you can access information about individual past workouts and view cumulative workout histories in the app. Another cool feature: MapMyFitness lets you track wear and tear on fitness gear (such as running shoes) by using the app’s distance- and time-tracking features.

MVP membership promises an ad-free experience with a host of value-added features, including cadence analysis, heart rate analysis, mobile coaching, live tracking, and interval training.

MapMyFitness’s developer also offers activity-specific apps with similar features: MapMyRide (cycling), MapMyRun (running), MapMyWalk (walking), MapMyHike (hiking), and MapMyDogWalk (dog walking).

You don’t need any special equipment to use MapMyFitness, other than proper workout attire, such as running shoes and breathable clothing.

2. Couch to 5K

  • Cost: Free for Standard access; $89.95 per year for Active Advantage
  • Operating System: iOS and Android

Couch to 5K is a wildly popular fitness program that motivates self-described couch potatoes to get up and run.

The official Couch to 5K app developed by Active Networks (beware knockoffs) is a workout tracker and training coach rolled into one. Over a nine-week period, the app’s walk-run workouts get progressively more strenuous until you’re consistently running a full 5K (3.1 miles straight) every time you hit the road.

A password-protected login feature tracks running/walking distance and time from multiple devices, which is helpful if you and your friends or significant other are training simultaneously. In-app instructions let you know what you’re doing on any given day, and audible commands tell you when to walk, jog, and run. Other than earbuds, which are recommended but not required, you don’t need special equipment to use this app.

It’s worth noting that Couch to 5K follows a predefined training program that’s available for free in the public domain – just Google “Couch to 5K” to find a slew of similar results. While you might not need the app to complete your own Couch to 5K training campaign, it does eliminate the need to track your progress manually – a tedious, error-prone process that requires you to time your walking and running intervals for each workout and then record them electronically or on paper afterward.

Couch to 5K is free to download, but Active Networks strenuously encourages users to sign up for its Active Advantage membership program. For $89.95 per year, Active Advantage offers a ton of benefits and discounts, including:

  • No processing fees on registration for events listed on
  • Discounts on certain events
  • $50 toward new running shoes at Road Runner Sports
  • 25% off regular priced menu items at Papa Johns
  • Free or discounted campground reservations, fishing licenses, and other outdoorsy benefits

3. Aaptiv

  • Cost: $99.99 per year when billed annually; $14.99 per month when billed monthly
  • Operating System: iOS and Android

Aaptiv offers unlimited access to a library of thousands of workouts and training programs created by certified personal trainers and driven by a personalized musical soundtrack.

To get started, provide some basic information about your fitness level and workout goals, then choose your workout based on your preferences (for duration, trainer personality, music, and more).

Unlike some fitness apps, Aaptiv is driven by audio, not visual elements. This is a welcome change for users sick of squinting at their phones or navigating cluttered visual interfaces while they should be concentrating on working out. Its workouts adapt to basically any fitness environment: the gym, the outdoors, your living room. More than 40 new classes come online each week.

After a seven-day free trial during which you can cancel without obligation, Aaptiv costs $99.99 per year (billed annually) or $14.99 per month (billed monthly). If you’re thrilled with the app, there’s a pricier lifetime membership option as well.

4. Zombies, Run!

  • Cost: Free
  • Operating System: iOS and Android

Zombies, Run! almost certainly wins the award for best-named fitness app. It has a great concept too – it’s an interval-training tool disguised as a post-apocalyptic video game.

Here’s how it works: In the game, your character is a “runner” tasked with traversing vast, zombie-infested wildlands on your way to one of the last human communities on earth. Along the way, you collect supplies and survivors, completing more than 200 unique missions in all.

In real life, you start running with your phone, listening to your music and the audible “mission” instructions given by the app. Every so often, the app warns you that zombies are on your heels, and you need to speed up until you hear the all-clear. The app tracks your speed by GPS and phone sensor. If you don’t run fast enough or for long enough, the zombies catch up, and you fail the mission. Running intervals vary based on the mission and your progress through the game.

Zombies, Run! has a robust social component that connects you with thousands of fellow players around the world, as well as an online data hub that lets you track and save your progress toward achieving better fitness. It’s not surprising that the app’s developer claims it’s the “biggest smartphone fitness game, ever,” though we haven’t independently verified this boast.

5. Sworkit

  • Cost: $59.99 per year or $9.99 per month after a 7-day free trial
  • Operating System: iOS and Android

Sworkit offers “personalized video workouts,” complete with motivational music and audio, that draw from dozens of routines. Its creators appeared on the popular pitch show “Shark Tank,” so you know their concept is legit.

Sworkit’s workout options include yoga, Pilates, strength training, stretching, and cardio workouts, none of which require special equipment. If you prefer to work out at your own pace, use the custom workout design feature to build a routine from more than 300 different exercises.

Whether you’re using preset or custom workouts, the app communicates visually on your phone’s screen and through audible instructions delivered via earbuds or your phone’s speakers. Sworkit is designed for on-the-go exercise. Some preset routines take as little as five minutes, and many more clock in at under 15 minutes.

6. Endomondo

  • Cost: Free; Premium version is $5.99 per month
  • Operating System: iOS and Android

Endomondo is a personal training app that integrates with a slew of wearable devices (like Android Wear) and calorie-counting apps (like MyFitnessPal) to provide a fuller picture of your athletic performance and overall health. It lets you set workout goals – for instance, run 6 miles in one hour flat – and provides dynamic, real-time audio feedback as you progress toward your goals. If you’re lagging, the feedback encourages you to speed up. If you’re ahead, it lets you know you’re about to reach a personal record – powerful motivation, in either case.

Endomondo also has a robust social component through which you can share workout details with others on the app and compare your performance against theirs in friendly (or not-so-friendly) competition. Like MapMyFitness, Endomondo saves detailed workout information, such as calories burned and distance traveled. The app integrates with heart rate sensors and other third-party apps and devices too.

Endomondo’s ad-free premium version features value-adds, including personalized training plans, interval training, heart rate zone analysis, weather information, and detailed workout comparisons.

7. Freeletics

  • Cost: About $1.50 to about $4 per week, depending on plan and duration
  • Operating System: iOS and Android

Freeletics is a high-intensity fitness training app built around an AI coach. Training is fully customized – you can’t use the app without completing an onboarding assessment. Plans take six to 12 weeks, depending on your baseline and goals, but you’re free and encouraged to continue your membership after your plan’s original end date. Depending on the length of your commitment, you can expect to pay anywhere from about $6 to more than $20 per month.

Once you’re in the system, you can choose from hundreds of different workouts customized to your weight, fitness level, and priority muscle groups. These workouts are designed to help you build muscle, lose weight, and improve fitness. They don’t require any weights or special equipment, just body-weight activities (such as pushups and crunches) you can do anywhere.

The Freeletics app learns from your feedback, so if you’re not comfortable with a particular combination, you probably won’t have to repeat it. If you’re stuck, step-by-step video tutorials with audible instructions ensure you get each exercise just right.

8. StrongLifts 5×5

  • Cost: Free; Pro pricing varies depending on your location
  • Operating System: iOS and Android

StrongLifts 5×5 is a pretty comprehensive weight training program built to shepherd you through repetitive strength training exercises, such as squats, pull-ups, dips, overhead presses, and bench presses. The app automatically adjusts to your performance, prompting you to increase weight after successful sets or take weight off when you’re struggling.

StrongLifts 5×5 generates a slew of data from your workouts, graphing your progression from flabby to fit and visualizing workout history on a handy calendar view. To use StrongLifts 5×5 properly at home, you need a pull-up bar and dumbbells or free weights. However, you can certainly use it at an uncrowded local gym if you already have a membership.

StrongLifts Pro’s additional features include locked screen entry (useful for entering set data quickly without unlocking your phone), custom assistance exercises, and syncing with Google Fit.

9. Strava

  • Cost: Free; Summit is $5 per month
  • Operating System: iOS and Android

Strava is a massively popular fitness app built for runners and cyclists. With a vast library of compatible devices, Strava syncs with pretty much any wearable you’re likely to use, drawing bounteous data out of everyday physical activity.

GPS sync is especially handy – simply save your stats each time you run or cycle the same circuit to compete against yourself. If you’re comfortable sharing your stats and routes, use Strava’s social feed to keep friends, teammates, and competitors abreast of your progress and apprised of routes they might like to try themselves.

Fair warning: Per Wired, a late 2017 “heat map” update caused alarm by revealing, through open-source user data, the locations and layouts of a slew of military bases and intelligence outposts around the world, some previously secret (or at least not publicly acknowledged). Beyond obvious operational security risks, some privacy advocates worried that hostile actors – non-state hackers and adversarial intelligence services, among others – could use Strava data to monitor known military or intelligence service users once they returned home. If you have good reason to keep your workout routine low-key, or you simply aren’t comfortable revealing yesterday’s cycling circuit to the wider world, maybe think twice about sharing your Strava feed.

Diet and Calorie Counting

These apps largely or exclusively focus on diet, nutrition, and caloric intake.

10. MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter

  • Cost: Free
  • Operating System: iOS and Android

MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter has an exhaustive database of more than 11 million foods and a user-friendly interface that lets you input your daily diet and exercise data in minutes to create a fast, complete picture of your daily net calorie gain or loss based on your height and weight.

MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter is nothing fancy, but it works. Once you enter a particular food or meal, the app saves and remembers it for future use. You can also import whole recipes from the Internet, reducing the amount of time necessary to input ingredients. The app syncs with dozens of other apps and devices, including MapMyFitness and FitBit wearables. The bests part: You don’t need any special equipment, though you may want to keep food packaging to help you remember precisely what you ate.

11. Shopwell

  • Cost: Free; Premium is $4.99 per month
  • Operating System: iOS and Android

Shopwell (distributed by Innit) is a basic shopping app that contains a wealth of nutrition, calorie, and allergy data for packaged and whole foods found in your local grocery store. Simply scan barcodes at the store or in your home to obtain product-specific information, or choose from a database of 400,000 food items to learn about products that don’t have barcodes, such as fresh produce.

Shopwell can also track your purchases and build a formidable stash of historical consumption data – total calories, sugar, sodium, protein, and other nutrients – over time. Plus, the app has a produce tracker that separates and tracks your fresh fruit and vegetable consumption, as well as weekly tips from registered dietitians and suggested alternatives for unhealthy foods.

Shopwell’s Premium version comes with additional recipes and a smart cooking tool known as adaptiCOOK. According to Shopwell, adaptiCOOK tailors meal prep and cooking instructions to any supported smart appliance and the specific ingredient mix you’re using to prepare them, removing any uncertainty and leading to what ShopWell claims are “professional-quality” results.

12. Fooducate

  • Cost: Free
  • Operating System: iOS and Android

Fooducate is a “calorie quality” tracker and food coach that won the U.S. Surgeon General’s Healthy App Challenge. It provides a comprehensive look at your net calorie consumption, or food consumed minus calories burned through exercise. Though you can’t track exercise in the app, it’s easy to import exercise data from other fitness apps. Fooducate also provides a running tally of the overall healthfulness of the calories you consume, with letter grades (A through D) to illustrate.

Fooducate’s database contains hundreds of thousands of individual foods, and you can personalize it with the foods you regularly consume by manually selecting foods in the app. Nutrients that factor into calorie quality include, but aren’t limited to, added sugars, trans fats, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners.

13. mySugr

  • Cost: Free; Pro is $2.99 per month or $27.99 per year (but may be free when synced with certain monitoring devices)
  • Operating System: iOS and Android

mySugr claims to be the top diabetes logbook app in a half-dozen countries. Its core app tracks your blood sugar, food intake, weight, HbA1c (a measure of blood sugar over time), medication, and more. You enter most of this information manually, using food packaging, a body scale, blood glucose meter, and other special equipment. The app integrates with a handful of diabetes devices, including the ACCU-CHEK Aviva strip system and Medtronic’s CGM device, simplifying blood sugar entry.

mySugr displays collected information in handy graphs and charts, complete with daily, weekly, and monthly analyses. Motivational feedback and personalized goals keep things exciting – and, in mySugr’s words, “make diabetes suck less.” mySugr is appropriate for users with Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes.

mySugr’s Pro version includes additional reminders, multimedia elements like photos, priority support, multidevice syncing, and advanced metrics not available in the free version.

14. DietBet

  • Cost: Free; games require bets, often $35 per game
  • Operating System: iOS and Android

DietBet is a social gaming platform that uses the power of friendly competition and financial reward to incentivize participants to meet fitness and dieting goals.

DietBet revolves around two distinct contests, each with a defined goal:

  • Kickstarter: Lose 4% of your body weight in four weeks
  • Transformer: Lose 10% of your body weight in six months

DietBet keeps participants honest by requiring photographic evidence of their transformations. Each contest requires a buy-in – usually at least $20 and sometimes as much as $100 – that goes into a collective pot. Participants who complete contest challenges get to split the pot, usually taking home double their initial bet or more. Though DietBet is highly social – you’ll be posting lots of full-length mirror photos here – participants are not required to share weight data with fellow competitors.

If you’re motivated by financial gain (and who isn’t?), then DietBet could be your ticket to better health. Just remember not to bet more than you can afford to lose.

15. Lifesum

  • Cost: Standard version is free; Premium membership costs about $4 per month
  • Operating System: iOS and Android

Lifesum is a personal dieting and fitness app that motivates users to make better food choices, lose weight, and build muscle – not necessarily at the same time. The free version is built around a meal planning tool that makes it easy to stay on top of common diets (such as Keto and 5:2) while tracking overall calorie intake, meals, and snacks. Like other popular diet apps, Lifesum has a barcode scanner that automatically imports nutrition information and a manual entry option for unlabeled foods and those not in Lifesum’s system.

Though you don’t need a wearable device or any special equipment to use the app’s basic features, Lifesum Premium does integrate with Android Wear and other wearables for seamless, real-time exercise and body metrics monitoring. You can also set specific fitness goals and track your progress over time.

Other Lifesum features include periodic reminders to drink water, helpful advice for healthy eating (including written feedback on your meal choices), a customized selection of healthy diets, and historical overviews of nutrition and exercise habits to help you track your progress over time. Premium membership includes more app and wearable integrations (including the Endomondo app and Fitbit wearable), more diet ideas, daily recipe suggestions, and other add-on features.

16. Yummly

  • Cost: Free; Pro costs $4.99 per month
  • Operating System: iOS and Android

Yummly is like a smarter, more responsive Pinterest, but exclusively for food recipes. The app has an advanced search feature that filters more than two million recipes for characteristics including taste preferences, allergic warnings, cook time, cooking technique, diet (such as vegetarian or vegan), cuisine/culture, and holidays/occasions. Yummly’s algorithms also account for your “Yums” – similar to Facebook “likes” – in your search results and suggestions.

Once you find a recipe, prepare it using Yummly’s step-by-step guides similar to the painstaking instructions included in the best home meal delivery services. The handy calendar and shopping list features make planning for new or recurring meals a breeze.

Yummly’s Pro version includes exclusive recipes for paying customers, more detailed instructions, and appearances by professional and celebrity chefs.

Mental Health and Cognition

These apps promote positive mood, better mental health, and sharper cognition.

17. Meditation Studio

  • Cost: Free to download, but subscription pricing ranges from about $8 per month to about $50 per month, depending on tier and payment frequency
  • Operating System: iOS and Android

Meditation Studio is a centralized meditation resource that promises to “untangle your mind.” The app includes curated meditation collections, step-by-step courses for self-guided meditation, and a library feature to which you can add your preferred meditations for easy access and repeat use.

Meditation Studio features hundreds of audio meditations, covering a range of styles (breath, body, visualization) and teachers. Meditation Studio also produces a periodic podcast. If you prefer unguided meditation, you’ll find that here too, plus relaxing audio tracks not available on other music streaming services.

18. Happify

  • Cost: $11.67 for a monthly subscription billed annually
  • Operating System: iOS and Android

Happify is a mood-boosting tool you can use as a long-term psychological aid or a short-term booster when you’re feeling down. The app revolves around quick games, such as budgeting exercises and more traditional riddles, that are easy to complete on the fly. As you complete activities and provide feedback, your “happiness score” improves, and historical charts show you just how much progress you’ve made. Happify claims that 86% of users feel better about their lives after two months of use.

19. Talkspace

  • Cost: Individual plans start at $260 per month when billed monthly; couples therapy plans start at $396 per month when billed monthly
  • Operating System: Android and iOS

Talkspace is a subscription therapy service that provides unlimited online messaging (text, photo, or video) with licensed therapists, who must have at least 3,000 hours of prior clinical experience to make Talkspace’s cut. To get started, you’ll need to complete an onboarding assessment and match with a therapist suited to your needs. Moving forward, you’ll work with the same therapist unless and until you determine they’re no longer a good fit or they leave the platform.

All user-therapist communication is anonymous. Response times vary – some therapists respond within 24 hours, while others respond weekly (usually in more detail). The highest-priced plan includes four video sessions per month – basically, a weekly remote therapy session.

While Talkspace is undoubtedly pricey, it’s significantly cheaper than a traditional therapy arrangement. And it can be especially useful if you live in an area where quality mental health care is hard to find. And if you’re in a vulnerable state or simply need someone to talk to, the service Talkspace provides could be invaluable.

20. Daily Yoga

  • Cost: Standard version is free; Pro is about $20 per month or about $4 per month when billed once every two years
  • Operating System: iOS and Android

Daily Yoga is a comprehensive yoga app with an expansive library of over 100 HD yoga class videos, a real-time calorie counter that tracks your calorie output during yoga sessions, relaxing music to accompany class sessions, and detailed yoga fitness plans (such as “yoga for abs”) designed by professional instructors.

The premium version comes with an ad-free experience, a wider range of yoga programming, and “deluxe music packs.” A yoga mat and comfortable clothing are recommended but not required – after all, you’ll be exercising in the privacy of your own home.

21. Sleep Cycle

  • Cost: Free; Premium costs about $20 per year
  • Operating System: iOS and Android

Billed as “the world’s most intelligent alarm clock,” Sleep Cycle is a comprehensive sleep analysis app that tracks your sleep stats (including length and depth, measured via metrics such as breathing patterns and movement) and stores them for future reference. Its alarm clock feature lets you set your preferred wakeup time, and the app wakes you up at your lightest phase of sleep within a 30-minute window before the set time.

Despite its simplicity – or perhaps because of it – Sleep Cycle has earned rave reviews. Verified app users swear it promotes healthier, more restful sleep.

Final Word

Whatever the merits of these individual apps, most share one common characteristic: convenience. Apps such as MapMyFitness and Endomondo integrate seamlessly into your daily exercise routine, whether it’s an intentional trip to the gym or an incidental workout while commuting by bike. Apps like Talkspace put therapists and professional listeners at your fingertips, and for less than the cost of a dedicated professional. And apps such as Daily Yoga and Meditation Studio carve out islands of calm and sanity from your busy day-to-day life, no matter where you are.

Like health itself, it’s tough to place a dollar value on convenience. Good thing the sticker prices of these apps don’t force you to choose between cost and quality.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

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