Tired of the same old workout routine at the gym? Now, thanks to smart phone applications like Runkeeper, it’s easy to break free from the treadmill while still keeping track of distance, pace, and other running stats.

The Pocket Running Coach — What It Is

Created by the technology-minded folks at FitnessKeeper, Inc., the Runkeeper application uses GPS capabilities to track all the nitty-gritty info that can help improve the quality of a run, bike ride, skate, or swim (just make sure to triple bag that phone before it goes in the water!). From the basics like distance, time, and pace to the more high-tech data like altitude and calories burned, there’s no more guessing the length of that loop around the neighborhood, or the time it took to climb that last hill on the bike. Runkeeper provides the route on a map, which can be uploaded to a computer for more analysis later on. Those stats can also be shared on Twitter and Facebook (Look at me go, cyber friends!). Runkeeper and the slightly more tricked out Runkeeper Pro are both free for anyone to download. The bonuses of Pro: customizable audio cues, the ability to set interval times and pace, and access to FitnessClasses, virtual classes that users can try out at the same time as others (5K run at noon anyone?). For $4.99/month (or $19.99/year), more serious athletes can subscribe to Runkeeper Elite, which offers enhanced training reports along with the ability to update activity mid-workout. All versions are compatible with the iPhone, Android, and smart phones with Windows 7, and also let users rock out with customized workout music from iTunes. In a sea of running apps, Internet news blog Mashable named Runkeeper Pro the #1 Essential iPhone Apps for Runners, and PCWorld listed Runkeeper as the Run Smarter application on its Top 49 Applications for All Phones list.

Ready to Hit the Pavement? — What It Means to You

Hitting the ground running may not be as easy as downloading the Runkeeper app, but studies show that participating in regular physical activity like running can build strength and flexibility and decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseasePhysical+activity+and+cardiovascular+health+a+close+link.+Fattirolli,+F.,+Cellai,+T.,+Burgisser,+C.+Azienda+Ospedaliera+Careggi,+Firenze.+Monaldi+Archives+for+Chest+Disease+2003+Mar;60(1):73-8Physical+exercise+and+health:+a+review.+Adamu,+B.,+Sani,+M.U.,+Abdu,+A.+Department+of+Medicine,+Aminu+Kano+Teaching+Hospital,+Kano,+Nigeria.+Nigerian+Journal+of+Medicine+2006+Jul-Sep;15(3):190-6.. Taking regular runs can also reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and might lessen the risk of adult-onset diabetes and cancer in the reproductive systemHealth+effects+of+recreational+running+in+women.+Some+epidemiological+and+preventive+aspects.+Marti+B.+Institute+of+Social+and+Preventive+Medicine,+University+of+Zurich,+Switzerland.+Sports+Medicine+1991+Jan;11(1):20-51.. Just remember that using exercise tracking software like Runkeeper isn’t the same as seeking instruction from a trainer, and pushing the body’s limits is not always recommended. Applications like Runkeeper instead help organize and manage data, with added features like allowing users to post their times and routes to social media sites. Before lacing up, keep in mind the app only lasts as long as the phone’s battery life, and some users attest keeping the program running can deplete device power even faster— so test out its lifespan before that big race. Even if running isn’t always easy, it can be still be fun, challenging, and more sociable than ever. For that, we give Runkeeper 4 out of 5 apples. Happy road running!Download/Buy Runkeeper for the iPhone from iTunes here.