If you’re concerned about how to stay in shape now you can’t get to the gym don’t worry: it’s never been easier to keep fit from the comfort of your own home – and you don’t need fancy equipment. Here’s our round up of the best apps to keep your body and mind well trained and firing on all cylinders.

Multitasking is the easiest thing I've ever done

1. Body weight workouts

Freeletics

If you’re lacking the imagination for how to make the most of that small space between the sofa and the telly, Freeletics has your back. It’s a fitness training programme that puts together 10- to 30-minute workouts using only your body weight: jumping jacks, burpees, diamond push ups, pistol squats and all the other moves that make you sick just to think of them. There are over 900 training moves all with explanatory videos. Should you want to make things a little more personalised then you can upgrade at a cost to get a bespoke coaching and/or nutritional guidance with meal plans too. But we reckon the free version is just fine if you’re training for maintenance rather than a specific goal.

Free on iOs and Android, freeletics.com

Seven

If the current lockdown means that, between trying to work from home in the spare bedroom and stopping your kids going feral, you haven’t the time for lengthier workouts – how about giving it your all for just, yes, seven minutes? You can tailor your options by gender, frequency and goals ("lose weight", "get strong" etc) and then choose from one of 200 different HIIT challenges, all of which involve body weight only. Each move is outlined with word and imagery explanations and each one lasts for 30 seconds. Some may not like the fact that there is no audio during the moves, but others will find this a blessed relief.

£9.99/$9.99 per month on iOS

Low section of young woman practising yoga online from laptop at home; she is sitting in lotus position on an exercise mat. Focus is on a laptop in the living room.
Doing yoga and Pilates at home is an ideal way to maintain or improve your flexibility Neustockimages / Getty Images

2. Flexibility

Glo

Ok so you might not have your favourite yoga instructor pretzling themselves into an impossible position in front of you, but you can still keep going on your quest to get the palms of your hands on the floor before the year is out. Glo offers thousands of yoga and Pilates sessions, promising to improve posture, mobility, muscular strength and core stability. Plus, you can save lessons to use offline in case your dodgy connection conks out.

£21.50/$18 per month on iOS, glo.com

A woman rides a time-trial bike on a turbo trainer in front of a TV; on the TV is her avatar in the Zwift cycling race.
Link your turbo trainer to the Zwift app to cycle (or run) in virtual worlds with others © Zwift

3. Cardio

Zwift

Something of a pioneer in the gamification of cycling and running, the Zwift app transforms turbo bike sessions and treadmill runs that you dread into something that’s really rather fun and sociable. You simply log in and pair your Bluetooth-enabled treadmill or static bike to the app (use a tablet rather than a phone if you have one) and power your avatar through any one of a thousand workouts around eight virtual courses (including Innsbruck and New York) while surrounded by thousands of other people around the world doing the same thing simultaneously.

£13/$15 per month on iOS and Android, zwift.com

A hand holds a smart phone; on the screen are various workout options listed in the Seven app.
No time? No problem! The Seven app has hundreds of seven-minute workouts © Seven

4. Rehab

Pain Therapy

That persistent pyriformis syndrome isn’t going to rehab itself you know, and this app is the next best thing to having your physio stand over you while you do your homework. It offers an extensive library of exercises, stretching and rolling videos for all parts of the body. You can search by muscle group or type of exercise and, while you need an internet connection the first time you play each video, thereafter it’s stored on your device for later use offline at your convenience.

£2.99 plus in-app purchases on iOS

A woman sleeps with a face mask on a bed with white linen.
One of the most important things to improve health and fitness is quality sleep © Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock

5. Rest

Sleepscore

If you think sleeping isn’t training, think again. Studies have shown poor sleep can play a part in anything from weight gain to depression. Get a grip on what your quality of sleep is actually like by doing virtually nothing: simply leave your phone on your bedside table and the app uses your phone’s microphone to monitor your breathing rate and body movements, then presents a detailed breakdown of your sleep stages, along with a nightly score. It even comes with personalised tips to help you get to the land of nod quicker – and stay there.

£5.50/$5.99 per month on iOS and Android, sleepscore.com

On a bright azure-coloured table sits a number of bowls; one holds olive oil, another olives and the final one sun-dried tomatoes; some slices of bread are also on the table.
MyFitnessPal helps you meet your daily nutritional goals © Foxys Forest Manufacture / Shutterstock

6. Nutrition

MyFitnessPal

One of the first nutrition-focused apps on the market and still one of the best. This won’t tell you what to eat but it will tell you how you’re eating. Plug in your weight loss target and desired time frame and it’ll give you your daily macro (fats/carbs/protein) and calorie targets to hit. You can then enter what you eat (manually or by barcode scan) for each meal and the chances are the app’s vast database of existing branded foods will have the nutritional information on them to give you the developing picture through out the day. There’s also a section to add any exercise you've done – and the calorie targets will automatically adjust to accommodate.

Free or £9.99/$9.99 a month on iOS for more detailed customisation options, Myfitnesspal.com

A laptop and smart phone sit facing the camera, both have a lake and mountain scene on them, with the app's title Calm across the middle.
Register with Calm for a year's worth of meditation and mindfulness © Calm

7. Meditate

Calm

Happily the benefits of meditation and mindfulness are pretty widely known these days: less stress, more energy, better focus, improved mental health to name but a few. Calm offers a smorgasbord of, well, calming resources to help you get one step closer to Zen master, including: guided meditations, soothing sounds (think waterfalls and crackling fires), gentle music, and bedtime tales narrated by a host of different voices including Matthew McConaughey (really), Stephen Fry and the headteacher from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

£36/$59.99 per year on iOS and Android, calm.com

You might also like:

Find running routes wherever you are
 

This article was originally published in March 2020, it was updated in December 2020.

This article was first published March 2020 and updated December 2020

Explore related stories

Active senior husband and wife love playing Surfing in Early morning at Izu Peninsula UNESCO Global Geopark Japan

Activities

The top 5 day trips from Tokyo for hikes, hot springs and surf

Mar 22, 2024 • 5 min read