Most people could do with losing a few pounds and getting fitter and stronger. UP by Jawbone and NexTrack can provide the motivation that helps you get results. Both apps are tested.

The average person weight more now than the average person 100 years ago and it is not good for our health. Our sedentary lifestyle, often sat in front of computers, does not help to maintain our health and we need to work hard to get slimmer, fitter and stronger.

Many diets are started and abandoned and our weight yo-yos. One month it is down and then we pile back on the pounds and it is up again. Fitness regimes are started with plenty of enthusiasm, but our strength and willpower wanes over time until eventually we give up. Sitting in front of the television is so tempting and so much easier than pounding the streets in pursuit of fitness.

To help you maintain your motivation and get rid of the flab, there are numerous health and fitness apps available for your mobile phone. Pedometer and Weight Loss Coach, Google My Tracks, Sworkit, and Argus have been looked at previously and this time the focus is on UP by Jawbone and NexTrack. Both are free, but which one is best?

UP by Jawbone

UP is a range of fitness tracking bands and there is the UP move, UP2, UP3, and UP4. The UP app for Android and iPhone is designed to work with the UP2/3/4 and it can measure your heart rate, track your sleep and your workouts.

You do not need to have an UP band and the app works on its own with just your phone. In fact, it was pretty good as a stand-alone app. The only thing is you have to input most activities manually. The one thing is measures automatically is the number of steps you take each day. It uses the phone’s sensors to record the steps taken.

Tap the plus button and there are options to enter a workout, your mood, the food you have eaten, your weight, sleep and mood. This is not as arduous as it sounds and mostly it involves picking items from lists. There are 18 predefined activities and you can set the difficulty level experienced, the start time and duration.

UP by Jawbone  UP by Jawbone

To enter food you type the name, like egg, and then select from a list of variations, like fried, boiled, omelette, goose, quail, and many more. The food database is comprehensive. The amount eaten is easily selected too.

The home screen shows your sleep, steps and food scores. Below are tips from the smart coach and a series of cards that are like a daily diary listing all the activities, sleep, meals and so on. There are some excellent screens that break down the activities into time, calories, daily trends and so on. Analysis of your food shows the fibre, fat, protein and other components, so you can see if you are eating too much or too little.

UP by Jawbone for Android  UP by Jawbone

There is a social element and you can add friends and even compete with them in duels. This is great if lots of your friends use the same app, but useless if they don’t.

UP is an excellent app that is perfect for people that want to keep a record of everything they do and eat. The food analysis and exercise report screens are very good.

NexTrack: Making Exercise Fun

Some people give up their health and fitness and go back to their old habits because of lack of motivation and boredom. NexTrack tries to combat this and keep you going by gamifying the process and it works on Android and iPhone.

In games you have missions, achievements, goals, rewards, badges and incentives to keep playing, and NexTrack adds all of these. In NexTrack you can earn experience points, improve your ranking, level up and so on.

The Log button on the home screen enables you to input a past workout and you can select from a long list of predefined activities that run from A to Z. The duration and time of day can be set. There is also an option to log a live workout and if it is running, walking, cycling or something similar, it can track your location and steps using GPS.

NexTrack  NexTrack for Android

Your weight can be manually entered each day and it is tracked on a chart. For $0.99 a water intake recorder and a sleep module can be added. There is no option to record what you eat, which is a major omission. Recording food would be much better than recording water. No amount of water will make you lose weight, but keeping an eye on what you eat would.

You earn mPoints and Lootsie points, which are reward schemes, but these were not working for some reason.

Your profile page is interesting and it shows exercise statistics like the time spent working out, distance travelled, exercise points gained and so on.  The medals that you earn for achievements are displayed, and you can view your activity history.

NexTrack  NexTrack

There is a good chat facility that is like a custom bulletin board. There are lots of different discussions like Newbie Chat, General Chat, Planning FlashFit Mobs (strangers meet up and exercise), Intense Workout Talks and more. If you are the chatty sort then you can join in, make friends and have interesting discussions.

NexTrack is an interesting idea and it might help with the motivation if that is a problem. The lack of food tracking is one main limitation and it contains advertising, as many free apps do though.

The verdict

Both apps are good in their own way and UP is the best of the two for tracking and analysing everything you do, like sleeping, eating and exercising. NexTrack’s game-like features might encourage you to work harder and avoid giving up, and the chat feature are good too.

My preference is for UP, but NexTrack has far more five star ratings in the Google Play Store.

Title: UP by Jawbone   
Price: Free
Developer: Jawbone    
Version: 4.9.4
Size: 49 MB
Android: 4.3 and up
Title: NexTrack: Making Exercise Fun   
Price: Free
Developer: Nexercise Apps
Version: 2.7.86
Size: 12 MB
Android: 2.3 and up