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Over and over again, research has shown that one of the best ways to help you want to stick to your workout plan or new diet is involving other people in your plans. Social media fitness apps may be one of the best ways to do this, but you need to find the app that works best for you!

Some of the most oft-repeated pieces of advice include “tell everyone you’re watching what you eat!“, “join a fitness class!“, or “make plans with a friend to go for a run in the mornings!” While there certainly isn’t anything wrong with these ideas, they aren’t always compatible with modern lifestyles – what if your only other friend who runs at the same speed as you lives in a different time zone? Or what if you work from home and don’t have co-workers to keep you away from the candy bowl?

Over the last few years there has been an explosion of YouTube fitness channels 7 Best YouTube Workout Channels To Exercise at Home 7 Best YouTube Workout Channels To Exercise at Home Home gyms and personal trainers help the moneyed get up straight from their beds and hit the gym. We lesser mortals have to call on our powers of self-motivation and discipline to trudge the few... Read More , countless articles, and even subreddits dedicated to fitness 4 Subreddits You Should Read For Tips To Stay Healthy and Fit 4 Subreddits You Should Read For Tips To Stay Healthy and Fit I will tell you right now that I couldn't possible write an article about living a healthy life. I'm a self-confessed Taco Bell connoisseur. However, I can certainly tell you where you can find some other health tips.... Read More . There are many healthy living apps 10 Great Health Apps for the iPhone and iPad 10 Great Health Apps for the iPhone and iPad Read More , but apps that are rooted in social connections between users are best suited to filling in the gap between expert recommendations and the realities of your lifestyle.

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Summarizing all of the fitness apps available would be nearly impossible, but it’s easy to break the available apps down into three basic categories:

  1. Apps that connect you to your off-line friends and family
  2. Apps that connect to your existing social media accounts
  3. Apps that connect you to strangers with similar goals

While there may be some overlap between these categories, each app does tend to focus on one of these aspects, with its other functionalities take a back seat. As with most things that influence your lifestyle, there isn’t going to be a perfect healthy living app, or even style of healthy living app, that will work for absolutely everyone.

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Here we’ve listed out some of the pros and cons of each category as well as an app that exemplifies that category. Hopefully this list will enable you to find the app that will most easily integrate into your individual lifestyle, and help you to achieve the goals that you have set for yourself.

1. Apps that Connect You with Friends and Family

There is no replacing the relationships that you have with your friends and family. For this reason, these individuals can be some of your best supports throughout any significant lifestyle changes that you make. Social media apps that focus on using these relationships to improve success can be some of the most powerful in changing your habits, and can also be a lot of fun!

However, these apps can also be intimidating to use if you are not surrounded by supportive relationships, or if those around you are uninterested in moving towards a healthy lifestyle.

Fitbit (iOS/Android)

FitBitSocial

Fitbit is one of the most widely used app that connects wirelessly to an electronic pedometer (now available in multiple styles with a wide range of functions!) and compares your stats (including steps taken, stairs climbed, calories eaten, and/or weight lost) to those of your Fitbit friends.

Fitbit is a great way to improve your fitness while competing against friends and family – some large companies have even begun implementing the use of Fitbit as a health initiative for their staff! You can wait for the weekly leaderboard to come out every Sunday night to see who has become champion, or engage your friends and family in a set challenge like the “Workweek Hustle” for additional motivation.

Apps that are intended to connect you with people in your “real” life may be the best choice for you if you enjoy competing against people you know, want a way to keep your supportive friends and family in the loop about your training through a platform dedicated to fitness, or find that your best motivation comes from engaging people close to you in your lifestyle changes.

2. Apps that Connect to Your Existing Social Media Accounts

While apps dedicated to fitness and healthy living are able to provide a number of great features, if no one else you know is using them they can fall short of their original purpose. If you want to stay engaged with your real-life friends, but they are not interested in using healthy living apps themselves, then choosing to connect an app with your existing social media accounts is a great way to still involve them in your goal setting, progress, and successes.

Now, there is a caveat to this – people posting their fitness activities on general social media networks can be a pet peeve for a number of users. Consider making a Facebook friends list specific for those that you want to be involved in your fitness activities, and sharing your updates only to them.

Nike+ (iOS/Android)

Nike+Social

Nike+ is one of the most ubiquitous apps for fitness, especially since it began partnering with Apple’s technology. There are many features of Nike+ Track, Motivate, and Compete With Nike+ Running Track, Motivate, and Compete With Nike+ Running Whether you're just taking up distance running for the first time, or you've lost track of how many marathons you have behind you, Nike+ Running is a useful tool. Read More that are helpful for your training. It tracks stats from your runs, allows you to complete challenges, and also has a coaching feature that leads you through a targeted program for specific race distances and running levels.

The social aspect of the Nike+ app is integral to its design. It allows you to share the completion of your runs through Facebook, Twitter or Path. An in-app camera allows you to add a photo to your share without leaving the app. As well, you can choose to “Get Cheers” from your Facebook and Path friends – a  cheering noise will sound over your music in real time as your friends like your post.

Apps that are intended to connect you to your friends through an existing social media network are a great way to have all of the benefits of the support you want from your close social circle without the potential effort involved with making them download (and use!) an app they may not be interested in using for themselves.

3. Apps That Connect You to a Community of Strangers

As wonderful as it can be to have support from your existing friends and family, there are a lot of situations in which being able to work out with a community of individuals that you do not know is a better fit. These apps are great for people who are exercising at a level different than those around them – you may want to have more technical discussions about weight training, or have someone else to talk to who is also starting to exercise with zero experience.

These apps do take more individual dedication than those that involve your off-line friends. After all, the motivation of an online community is only effective if you choose to stay engaged. Similarly, the level of interaction and investment that you put into an online community generally dictates the benefits you will receive from using the app.

PumpUp (iOS/Android)

PumpUpSocial

Apps such as PumpUp are designed specifically for those who love talking about their workouts on social media and who also enjoy being inspired by the accomplishments of others.

The interface of PumpUp looks as it resembles Instagram in both its appearance and functionality, but it features three different feeds. A “New” feed allows you to view the newest photos posted, a “Popular” feed lets you see the posts that have been interacted with most recently, and a “Following” feed allows you to view photos only from those users that you choose. You can track your exercise with the app, and post photos with descriptions to share with your followers.

Apps that are intended to create a community amongst like-minded people who may never meet otherwise are a fantastic resource for those looking to make changes in their lifestyles. They are a great choice if you love using social media to connect, and are interested in sharing your fitness activities with others who will understand your progress.

Do You Have a Favorite Social Exercise App?

Having outside social influences can be one of the determining factors in how successful you are in implementing an exercise program or lifestyle change over time. Healthy living apps have been improving rapidly, and will likely continue to get better with the information provided by Health Kit on iOS 8 iOS 8 Turns Your iPhone Into A Personal Healthcare Monitor iOS 8 Turns Your iPhone Into A Personal Healthcare Monitor Apple's new watch will turn your iPhone into a revolutionary device for managing your health and fitness – here's how it works. Read More . However, the kind of app that works best for you will depend on the kind of social connections that best fit your lifestyle and personality.

Do you have a favorite social exercise app? Have you found them to be helpful in inspiring you to reach your fitness goals?

Image Credits: man with smartphone Via Shutterstock, Jogging During Golden Hour by d26b73 via Flickr

  1. Steve Johnson
    October 30, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    I use an app called Outwork. I can post pics and keep track of everything I do.

  2. Steve Johnson
    October 30, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    I started using an app called Outwork - Fitness Community and Workout Finder. I use it to track my weight and daily caloric intake along with posting pics.

  3. Curtis
    June 19, 2016 at 2:03 am

    I tried just about every app and couldn't find one that simply logs workouts, and could connect to friends. I did finally find a website that looks and acts like an app on my phone, but they don't seem to have an app. Maybe that is a good thing because it doesn't take any space, but does anyone know of an app that is similar to http://liftingwithfriends.com where you can log workouts and connect to your friends? I don't want a bunch of videos, or any other garbage. Just a simple way to log my workouts and see my friends workouts.

    • Briallyn Smith
      July 19, 2016 at 8:53 pm

      Thanks for letting me know about this site, Curtis! PumpUp on this list might be the closest to what you are looking for that I can come up with off the top of my head?

  4. asdf
    May 11, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    the best ? go read all the comments on "Fitbit" its a shit app lol

  5. Marcus Davenport
    March 18, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    There's also TheFitlyApp! You can download it on IOS or Android once they launch in your city to find workout partners! It's a great way to network and meet new friends while keeping me motivated to go to the gym!

  6. Viktoria Buhtarevich
    January 19, 2016 at 9:51 am

    fitNshare for iOS would fit into the category "Apps that connect you to a community of strangers"

    • Briallyn Smith
      February 1, 2016 at 1:20 pm

      Thanks Viktoria! It's great to know about that one :)

  7. Belén García Domínguez
    September 26, 2015 at 11:33 am

    There´s also inKin - https://www.inkin.com/, where you can connect your device and compete with your friends and family even if they use a different tracker, very cool!

    • Briallyn Smith
      February 1, 2016 at 1:21 pm

      Belen, I'm so sorry I just saw this now - I love it! That's such a great idea - it's so frustrating to try and get everyone in a family or friend group to use the same tracker and this app totally solves that problem!

  8. Karan Sujanani
    June 30, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    I think the only thing that all of these apps are missing is peer-to-peer communication. When it comes to fitness for me personally, I always work better when I'm physically with someone who shares the same goals as I do. I just started using this app called fitssi, and I feel so much better not having to check my phone midway through my workouts to see how many steps i've taken.

  9. M Regan
    May 18, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    All pretty awesome apps i must say. One that has tweaked my interest is Active-Mate! It looks like a cross between a Health and Fitness app and a Social Connection app. I think it may take off!!!

    • Briallyn
      May 19, 2015 at 2:33 pm

      Thanks so much for the suggestion! I'll be sure to check into that one - just from looking at its description, I love that it combines your geographic location with detailed profiles... what a great way to connect with similarly minded people :)

  10. Jessica
    May 5, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    Map my Run (map my ride too) & my fitnesspal

    • Briallyn
      May 7, 2015 at 7:11 pm

      Great ones, Jessica! Myfitnesspal overlapped in so many of the categories I was looking at that I decided to leave it out – but it really is an app that does it all when it comes to fitness and healthy living!

  11. Dfunk
    May 3, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Fitocracy has to get my vote

    • Briallyn
      May 4, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      That's another great one!! Thanks for adding it to the list :)

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