Trackers, apps and online trainers: 5 easy ways to get fit with technology

Have you made a New Year's resolution to do more exercise? Whether you want to learn to run or just improve your overall fitness, your smartphone can help.

Whether you want to lose weight, train for a race or would just like to improve your general health, the New Year is the most popular time to begin a fitness regime, as gyms up and down the country bulge in sympathy with their new members' post-Christmas waistlines.

But where do you start, and once you've completed your first swim, jog or gym session, how do you find the motivation to keep going?

Here are five ways technology can help you with your fitness programme.

[Read more: How your smartphone can look after your health]

1: Track your daily activity   

Before you start setting serious fitness goals, a great place to start is with the health apps included with smartphones.

Apple users can use Apple Health, which lets you monitor walking and running distances detected using the sensors on your phone - along with Sleep, Mindfulness and Nutrition data. Find out more.

If your phone runs Google’s Android operating system, you can use the free Google Fit app, which automatically detects when you walk, run and cycle

Google Fit app

To inspire you to exercise, Google worked with the World Health Organisation to develop two activity goals. You get ‘Move Minutes’ for being active and ‘Heart Points’ for higher-impact activity, set goals for each and if you meet them they adjust to keep you challenged.

Apple Health works with the Apple Watch and Google Fit works with various smartwatches running Wear OS. They also work with trackers, fitness apps like Runkeeper and nutrition apps like Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker to share data so it’s all in the same place.

2: Forget the gym - nail the basics at home

If your fitness goal is to build muscle, you don’t need to go to the gym or get a personal trainer. The brilliant thing about apps like Home Workout – No Equipment is that you can exercise in your own time, in the privacy of your own home, and with no specialist equipment.

Using the app, choose the part of the body you want to strengthen, select whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced athlete, then work your way through the exercises, which have been designed by a professional fitness coach. Each routine includes a cartoon and video to show you how to exercise properly.

Home workout no equipment app

Available for Apple or Android phones, the app is free or you can pay to remove adverts. Female Fitness – Women Workout is aimed at women. Other apps with workouts you can do at home include 7 Minutes Workout (Apple, Android) and GetFit: Home Workout & Fitness (Apple, Android)

[Read more: Upgrade your bedroom with these smart gadgets]

3: Get a fitness tracker

Whether you want to get fit by running, cycling, walking or running, a fitness tracker is a convenient way keep track of your exercise.

Trackers are worn on your wrist to monitor your activity during the day and tell you how long and how well you sleep at night.

Fitbit Charge 3

Activity trackers sync with your smartphone using Bluetooth. Using companion apps you can see how many steps you've taken, how far you've travelled and how many calories you've burnt. The stats help you track improvement and should motivate you to reach your fitness goal.

Fitbit, Garmin and Samsung all make trackers and smart watches. An entry-level activity tracker costs around £50, while more advanced models which can monitor your heart rate cost from £120 to £180.

Woman paying with Garmin smartwatch

Smart watches can also be used as fitness trackers. Devices like the Garmin Vivactive 3, Fitbit Iconic or Apple Watch can track your activities as well as playing music and games, receiving messages and making payments.

4: Get advice from a fitness expert

There are hundreds of online fitness gurus claiming to help you get fit through offering tips and motivational advice and by sharing videos you can follow at home.

One of the best known, ‘Body Coach’ Joe Wicks, creates high intensity interval training (HIIT) video workouts for people of all abilities on YouTube. Playlists include: 20-minute Workouts, Beginners Workouts and his 7-Day Workout Series. Wicks, a personal trainer and nutrition coach, has his own app with a 90-day fitness plan (costing £97) and you can also follow him on Instagram for healthy-recipe ideas.

Who better to offer fitness advice than an Olympic champion? British diver Tom Daly's YouTube channel has videos to help anyone who wants to get fit, including workouts, health and fitness tips and healthy recipes. Daly also vlogs about his life and diving training.

TV presenter Davina McCall has sold millions of fitness DVDs, and her Instagram combines fitness and health tips and motivational advice while offering snapshots into her life.

5: Get off the sofa and start running

Running is one of the most accessible forms of exercise – anyone can run, it costs nothing bar a pair of trainers and you can do it almost anywhere. But knowing how to get getting started can be hard, epecially if you haven’t exercised in a while.

The One You Couch to 5K programme is great place to start. Developed by Public Health England and aimed at total beginners, it aims to gradually build up your running distance to 5km in just nine weeks.

Couch to 5km app

You can follow the programme using the free Android and Apple smartphone apps. As you run you can listen to coaching tips from famous faces such as Olympic champion Michael Johnson, and see a countdown timer which tells you how long you have left to run or walk during each session. Every time you exercise, you run a little bit further until you reach your target distance.

If you don’t have a smartphone you can also download the nine-week programme as a series of weekly podcasts (which works with a standard mp3 player or feature phone) from the NHS website.

Looking for a SIM-deal or new phone? Check out our brilliant deals, including free wi-fi!

More from BT