Who doesn’t need an extra boost of encouragement to make it through their workout or choose a salad instead of french fries? Healthy living motivation apps can help you succeed on your fitness journey, while also offering the chance to win money, create a healthy habit streak or support your favorite charity. Here's a review of the three most popular.
Diet Bet (Free, iTunes)
What if losing weight could boost your bank account? That’s the idea behind the DietBet app. The app harnesses the power of what CEO Jamie Rosen calls "social dieting" along with people’s desire to, well, win money.
Here's how it works. DietBet features "games" where a group of people pool entry fees (around $25 each) into a pot and challenge each other to lose weight. The game begins and participants have four weeks to lose four percent of their body weight. At the end of the four weeks all the money in the pot is evenly split between the winners.
So how well does it work? Rosen says about 30 to 40 percent of group participants "win," losing an average of nine pounds and winning an average of $96. But in the end everyone wins, since according to Rosen, the supportive community and accountability features of the DietBet game result in 86 percent of all users losing weight.
The app tracks your progress during the game, while dynamic in-app graphics display how you stack up against the competition. Tap the activity button on the bottom of the screen and add comments, motivate your friends and see updates from people you follow. The app also sports a photo feature, so you can snap a photo of that healthy lunch or your favorite running trail and share it with your followers.
This is where Rosen’s "social dieting" idea starts to take shape. During a DietBet game, you’re not going it alone -- you're working with a group, which makes the healthy living journey more fun. It’s encouraging to know your fellow DietBetters are having the same experiences and supporting you along the way.
Along with friendly competition and support, money can also be a great motivator. In fact, a Journal of the American Medical Association study found that dieters who had a financial incentive were five times more likely to lose weight. If you win, you have the option to cash out via PayPal, donate your money to charity or apply your winnings to another DietBet.
If you like some friendly competition and the idea of adding a little extra cash to your pocket, then the DietBet app could be the one to get you on track with a healthy lifestyle.
Lift (Free, iTunes)
Born from Twitter founder Biz Stone’s tech incubator, the Lift app is designed to encourage you and help you establish healthy habits. The idea is that through taking small steps every day you can create and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
This app is simple and straightforward to use. Think of it as a to-do list with plenty of positive reinforcement and support.
Upon opening the Lift app, you’ll notice three habits already built in: 10k steps, exercise and meditate. Click the upper right-hand box and you can search a menu of current habits featuring categories like "Popular" and "Trending" with habits like exercise, sleep eight hours and eat breakfast.
The "Supportive" category features the most encouraging and engaging communities on Lift. The "Health and Wellness" category includes habits like drink more water, stop drinking soda and eat fruit to name a few. The "Fitness" habits allow you to choose from workouts like CrossFit and Insanity or simply running and pushups. Click to choose your habits and they are added to your homepage main menu.
My favorite thing about the Lift app: When you complete a habit, simply click the big check box and that’s it. The app logs your progress and keeps track of your streak.
A running feed below each habit gives you the opportunity to add a note to your own habit or comment and give props to others. This adds a nice social element of support.
The activity tab on the bottom of the app displays how many times you’ve "checked" into each habit. There are also graphs that visually showcase your weekly and monthly habit frequency.
Follow friends and get support from the Lift community to keep your healthy streaks alive. Recently, Lift even started featuring group challenges like The 4-Hour Body based on the book by the same name.
Building healthy habits and establishing consistency are keys for getting in shape, and Lift is a helpful tool to do this. If you are looking to make simple changes to your lifestyle this is a great app to keep you accountable.
Charity Miles (Free, Android and iTunes)
What if you knew that every mile you ran, walked or biked raised money for someone in need? Sometimes it can be easier to motivate yourself to do something good for others. If this theory strikes a chord, then Charity Miles might be the app for you.
Swipe the screen and select a charity from options like Feed America, Stand Up To Cancer, Autism Speaks, Wounded Warrior Project and the ASPCA. Then choose whether you’d like to run, bike or walk. The GPS-enabled app starts tracking your run. This is a nice bonus for those that like to monitor time and distance. Runners and walkers earn 25 cents per miles while bikers earn 10 cents per mile.
When your workout is over, the app asks you to post your accomplishment to Facebook or Twitter in order to accept your sponsorship. No money comes out of your pocket, as Charity Miles and corporate partners cover the donations.
Every now and then we all need a little motivation to make healthy choices. So whether encouragement comes in the form of winning cash, checking in to stay accountable or supporting your favorite charity, the smartphone apps DietBet, Lift and Charity Miles have you covered.