By MorePix (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By MorePix (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
 As rumors of the Apple Watch continue to bounce around the internet, it might be time to take a look at existing devices or health and fitness apps that work with your phone —  many of which are free!

So on that note, let’s check out some technology and perhaps, keep a New Year’s resolution or two!

What are wearables? Wearables are devices like Google Glass (whose Explorer program is being restructured), smart watches (communicate with a phone or work as a phone), GPS watches (track movement, distance, pace, and location), fitness bands (similar to digital pedometers but are starting to blur lines between other devices), heart monitors, and other devices which we wear and collect information about us, primarily for our own use or for us to share with others.

Another interesting feature of the GPS watches and fitness bands are the apps and software interfaces. Both Nike and Garmin not only measure progress but “gamify” it via badges. You can even challenge your friends via the apps!  These apps and software can also estimate calories burned based upon activity and if you input your calories consumed, you may be able to see eating habits as well as calorie overages. Of course, all of that depends upon the particular company’s software.

I have both the GPS watch to track distance and pace and a fitness band which tracks steps walked/ran and syncs to my phone (messages, music controls). Unfortunately, most fitness bands do not have a built-in GPS so if you want to see how many times you ran around the Washington Monument (oh, that would be me), you’ll probably want both. We’re not quite to the one wearable device to rule them all, at least in terms of a device small enough to wear on a daily basis.

In terms of the apps and software, here are a few health related ones which are either free or fremium (free but some advanced features have a cost), primarily working with your phone:

Running/walking apps

Active – Couch to 5k, to 10K, etc. Running community Active has several different apps designed to help new and seasoned runners,

Garmin connect – works with Garmin fitness products ; desktop and mobile versions

Google Maps – you can always create your own maps and routes using Google Maps using sites mappedometer or ,Gmap Pedometer

Map My Run – works with Google maps; plan out routes ahead of time (software will provide distances) or see what runs others have shared. as a web based product (no phone needed); App is available in Iphone and Android stores

RunKeeper – works with Google map; plan routes, challenge others; primarily intended as a running app for your phone using GPS, but can also login to a web interface using

Nike Connect – works with Nike GPS watch and Fuel (fitness band) ; may work with other fitness bands (excluding Garmin); desktop and mobile versions,

Biking – For those of you who bike (as in bicycle!), many of the above apps will also work for you. One app that is more biking centric is Strava. There are even apps to identify pot holes and what kind of bike gear you need!

Movement / Multiple sports – Again, many of the running/walking apps may work for you, but you might also check out Moves App, which is designed to be all inclusive.  Move it, move it is a simple reminder to tell  you to.. well move it!


Yoga – this list of apps is fairly comprehensive! Yogify is my fave of this bunch, but I will have to try the Airplane Yoga app next time I fly!

Weight loss – Diet – Health

There are so many weight loss and diet apps, from the big names, Weight Watchers and MyFitnessPal, to LoseIt,, with a few more listed here.  Remember that some of the other fitness apps like the Garmin and Nike also will help you keep track of diet along with exercise. Additionally, IOS 8 has a

"Joshua Tree yoga - warrior 1a" by © Jarek Tuszynski / Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
“Joshua Tree yoga – warrior 1a” by © Jarek Tuszynski / Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

built in Health app. If you’re interested in a weight loss/diet app, you might also check out this list of apps which have been reviewed by doctors. Plenty to choose from!

So, how can we tap into this for libraries?

  • Programs and events related to fitness (and also highlight self help books, videos, etc. in collection)
  • Put together lists of apps to share – use libguides, reader’s advisories, blogs, social media, whatever you can
  • Do a scavenger hunt or some other kind of GPS event using wearables or GPS phone technology
  • Map your library using Google maps technology and share the maps
  • Create a running/walk course map that ends/begins at your library!
  • Host a running/walking group or a “biggest loser” type of group
  • Host a hack-a-thon (also a great time to showcase your makerspace if you have one!)
  • Fitness fair – invite local gyms, personal trainers, yoga studios and more to participate
  • Demo technology
  • Your own unique ideas!