Tracking Your Activity with Free Phone Apps

By Jenny Beaudette, health coach

There’s an app for that! Indeed, these days, it seems there’s an app available for everything related to personal fitness. So, which app is the best one to help you track your progress and reach your physical activity goals?

It depends on your goals, the type of smart phone you have, and how much feedback you want from your app. Specifically for physical activity, there are many apps out there that can track each step you take, or just track a specific walk or run. Some apps can show you where you have been by using GPS, tell the average pace you kept, and generally calculate the amount of calories you burned based on information you enter when setting up your profile.

I recently tested out quite a few options and have listed here a few of the best free apps that met three criteria: 1) seemed pretty accurate in determining the number of steps taken, 2) did not completely drain the battery on my phone, and 3) gave some good feedback.

Fitbit: Many people are familiar with the Fitbit app that syncs with Fitbit devices, but the company also offers a free phone-based app that you can use to track your steps and mileage. All you have to do is carry your phone on you in a pocket throughout the day and it will track your steps and miles. You can also track food intake, water intake and weight. When tested, it seemed to be one of the more accurate free apps available.

Pacer: This app also turns your phone into a pedometer. It seemed to be very accurate and actually asks you to enter your stride, which was unique from the others. It tracks miles, activity minutes and calories burned and you do not need to activate it each day. As long as you are carrying your phone, it tracks automatically and provides daily trends as well as offers an area to track weight, make comments and review your history.

Accupedo: As with the first two, this app turns your phone into a pedometer if you carry your phone on you throughout the day. It tracks your steps, calories burned, distance traveled and pace and provides a breakdown of which hours you are the most active. It does not offer tracking of food intake, but was fairly accurate for steps taken. This particular app only tracks steps when you activate it; it does not run automatically.

All of the apps listed above are free. Some may also offer upgrade versions for a fee and in the case of the Fitbit, you can also purchase devices. To help you get started comparing the various health apps, including which phones each app works best on and some of their features, visit


Note: This information is provided solely for informational purposes. The Heart of New Ulm Project does not endorse or recommend any commercial products, processes or services.