It’s time to get moving. These pedometer apps encourage you to walk daily in order to lose weight, get heart-healthy, or even earn turn your steps into rewards.
A daily walk is one of the most popular forms of exercise, especially with the trend of hitting 10,000 steps every day for a healthy heart. Some people also find it stimulating to compete with friends on these daily steps. No matter how you view walking as a form of exercise, these free apps will make it a more enjoyable activity.
1. Walking for Weight Loss (Android, iOS): For Beginners to Gradually Walk More
If you are trying to develop the habit of walking regularly, particularly with an eye on losing weight, you need to get the Walking for Weight Loss (WWL) app. It will coach beginners to gradually build up their walking strength and speed so you start conquering longer distances to shed those pounds and get your heart rate up.
You can start as a beginner, intermediate, or advanced walker depending on how long you plan to walk every day. For each session, WWL will give you a warm-up before beginning, and break the walk into casual and speed walking sessions. For example, if it’s a 20-minute walk, you might start with 16 minutes of regular speed and four minutes of speed-walking.
Throughout the whole walk, WWL gives you guided audio instructions. It also connects with your preferred music player app, so that you can listen to music normally but the audio instructions will chime in when needed.
Each walk’s GPS map, time, and steps are auto-logged in the app. WWL also asks you to write how you felt after the walk, which is a small but neat feature to track your walking journey. It’s simple to use, completely free, and a hit among everyone who downloads it.
2. Stridekick (Web): Community Challenges and Private Challenges for Steps
Stridekick is a community of people who enjoy walking as a regular fitness activity. You can use it to challenge each other or move forward together as a group, depending on the type of motivation that gets you going. It’s a simple sign-up process, which lets you join community challenges or create your own.
The free version gives you three challenge modes, which are Stridekick’s own yardsticks to keep upping your game. You can create a private challenge for up to 10 people, lasting up to a month. It’s a nice way to compete with your buddies to see who takes the most steps.
The community challenges are a cool way to get into a virtual walking group. You’ll find that Stridekick users are competitive but in a healthy way, and cheer newcomers to achieve their targets together. There are also special interest challenges to add some fun to it, like a Star Wars themed challenge where you join a team for your favorite character, and add up your steps to defeat other characters.
The Stridekick mobile app connects to most of the popular fitness apps and ecosystems, such as Fitbit, Apple Health, Google Fit, Garmin, Withings, and Misfit. So you don’t need to use the app to track steps, you can use any of the best fitness trackers and sync the data.
3. StepUp (Android, iOS): Ad-Free App to Track Steps and Compete With Friends
Not everyone needs challenges and community groups. If all you want is a simple app to track your daily steps and compete with friends, get StepUp. It’s a lightweight app to connect with friends and see all your steps in one place.
StepUp syncs data with Google Fit, Apple Health, Fitbit, and most of the popular fitness trackers. If you want to use the in-app step counter, it works from the phone itself too. What makes StepUp special is that the app is completely ad-free, and it doesn’t track your location either, making it a rarity in this market.
4. Hero Trainer (Android, iOS): Earn Free Video Game Rewards for Steps
Is the gamer lifestyle keeping you glued to a chair? Hero Trainer gives you an incentive to get those daily steps by cashing them in for in-game rewards, no strings attached. There aren’t any hidden costs, it’s all about balancing your gaming time with your health.
Download and sign up for the app, and then sync it with Google Fit, Apple Health, or Fitbit to track your steps. For every 1000 steps, you earn one Aura. Auras are like coins, which you redeem for in-game rewards. Hero Trainer has perks for a variety of mobile, PC, and console games, ranging from Call of Duty to Super Smash Bros.
You can earn more auras by participating in challenges, like higher daily step counts or a streak of daily steps. Gaming is all about community, so Hero Trainer lets you build and join guilds to play with friends. There’s also an active Discord server to chat with other gamers about balancing health and gaming.
5. Charity Miles (Android, iOS): Walk to Raise Money for Charity
While some apps offer you rewards for steps, you can also use the same exercise for a good cause. Charity Miles turns your steps into money raised for charitable organizations.
It’s a simple pedometer app. First, choose from a variety of charities that you would like to donate to, such as Feeding America, Autism Speaks, etc. Then start walking (or running or cycling)! Again, you can connect with Google Fit or Apple Health to sync your movement. Every mile you cover helps you raise money for charity.
6. Walk The Distance (Android, iOS): Take Virtual Walks and Set Long-Distance Goals
Most walking or running apps make you set goals about the number of steps per day, or to beat personal best times. Walk The Distance (WTD) instead sets loftier goals. How about walking the Appalachian Trail, or the Pacific Crest Trail, or the Arches National Park? You can virtually complete these famous walks through the app.
Here’s how it works. WTD will sync with Google Fit or Apple Health which track your daily steps. You select the trail you want to complete, and the app will tell you how much of it you managed through today’s walk. And it will “unlock” that amount of the virtual trail for you to see.
So based on how much you walk, you’ll get to virtually walk through the app and see the sights of the trail. These are lovely little write-ups and photos giving you a window to a world far away. You can also see other walkers on the trail as well as upcoming milestones.
The social part of WTD lets you add friends to take a virtual walk together. You can both be on your treadmills but still be hiking through the Appalachian Trail. Only the first part of each trail is free, after which you’ll need to pay to unlock. But if you like the free bit, you’ll find the rest worth it.
Go Beyond Cardio
You don’t have to choose any one app from the above list. Pedometer apps vary because people’s interests vary. You might want to start with Walking for Weight Loss, but move on to Walk The Distance when treadmills get boring, and finally start walking for Charity Miles. Mix it up, it’s up to you.
But you should also be aware that while walking is an excellent form of daily exercise, it’s only cardio. You don’t get any strength training, aerobics, or other workouts that your body needs to achieve optimum fitness. As you get fit, make sure your body gets all-round conditioning.