According to an article on the AARP website, a simple daily exercise of walking “can reduce the risk of many diseases “” from heart attack and stroke to hip fracture and glaucoma.” As someone who sits at his computer throughout the day, I can often feel the fatigue of not getting enough exercise. When I do manage to walk or ride my bike on a regular basis I feel and sleep so much better.
There are many recommendations for how much walking or running should be done on a weekly basis, but on average, at least eight miles a week is a good healthy start. And so that’s one of my goals for next year.
To help monitor my exercising goals, I plan to use one of the best selling iPhone apps called RunKeeper. I downloaded it the other day and was instantly impressed by its design and ease of use. RunKeeper is a fitness tracking application for both the iPhone 3G and 3GS. It uses GPS technology to record the amount of miles/kilometers you walk, and for how long.
When you first run the application, you can set up an online profile which keeps track of your fitness exercises using the app. This is clearly a useful feature to set exercise goals, especially if exercising is something you tend to put off.
You just need to do a couple of things to set up the device. After providing an email and password, you will receive an email confirmation which links to your profile on the RunKeeper site. Like most Web 2.0 sites, you can set up your profile and create a personal URL, as well as connect with your Facebook account.
Getting started is simple. Open the application, and make sure that first Wi-Fi is not running. Typically if you’re outdoors, this probably will not be a problem, for your iPhone will switch to 3G anyway.
You’ll also want to set up the type of fitness activity you will be doing. Activity types include running, cycling, walking, hiking, downhill skiing, cr0ss-country skiing, snowboarding, skating, swimming, wheelchair, and other. Selecting “activities helps keep track of your totals for each activity separately (as well as the totals across all activities) and also measures the calories burned differently, depending on activity type.”
The last thing you want to check is how good your GPS strength is. Typically, if the sky is not very cloudy and you’re not running in a basement, the strength should be good to excellent.
I walked with my iPhone in my front jacket pocket and the GPS strength remained good. The developers also suggest that if you put your iPhone in your pocket while it’s running, to use the top lock of the iPhone to sleep the screen so the apps button won’t get accidentally pressed.
You can listen to your iTunes music while running the app, but like other apps on the iPhone, RunKeeper can’t run in the background with other apps open.
You can click pause if you need to, and if your phone rings during your fitness activity the app will automatically pause.
The Tracking Features
The beauty of an app like this is the tracking data, for which you can look back on your progress. The tracking features on both the app and the website are very well designed and minimal. Even the banner ad running on this the free version of is un-obstrusive.
With the GPS technology, you have access to both written and visual data of your fitness activities, including a map of the streets or area you walked, ran, or rode your bike. It sort of makes the app fun to use. You feel guilty if you click your activities page on the app or your profile and see how you haven’t been exercising.
There’s an ad-less Pro version of the app, which, among other things, integrates with your iPod playlist to start up automatically every time you start tracking a new RunKeeper activity.
For the non-athletic pros like myself, the free version will suffice. Plus, RunKeeper means I don’t have to shell out money for a Nike-iPhone 3Gs set up that basically does the same thing.
Do you use Runkeeper [iTunes Store link]or do you have a preferred alternative? If so, let us know about it in the comments.