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Get moving in the comfort of your home with fitness apps

With personal trainers in our back pockets, there is no excuse for leading an unhealthy lifestyle

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 May, 2016, 9:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 October, 2016, 2:49pm

No time to hit the gym? Fitness apps can help busy Hongkongers live healthier lifestyles by squeezing in a workout session or two in-between meetings, lunch breaks and at home in the comfort of their living room.

But what is the minimum amount of physical activity you need before you can officially shake off the “couch potato” label? According to the latest WHO global recommendations, adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, in sessions that last at least 10 minutes.

The key phrase here is “at least modest”, says Professor Stanley Hui from Chinese University’s science and physical education department.

“When you exercise, you [should aim] to trigger physical changes to stimulate your energy expenditure and your muscular metabolism,” Hui says. “The most important thing is [for] your heart rate to increase, your breathing range to increase, and [to] also have a mild sweat.” If you can hold a conversation with your friend during your workout, then you’re engaging in moderate physical activity.”

For additional health benefits, the WHO recommends an extra 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity and muscle-strengthening exercises two to three times a week.

Hectic schedules packed with meetings and deadlines often make it difficult for most people to make the time to go to a gym.

“Unfortunately, most of the people don’t exercise much or enough, and most of the people are physically inactive. Only a quarter of Hong Kong people are regular exercisers,” Hui says.

To get yourself on your feet and started on your fitness journey, try out the following apps. All you need is a wall, a mat, a chair, and maybe a few weights.

Johnson & Johnson isn’t just for babies or people looking for a good face wash. It also has a free fitness app, the Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout app, designed by its own fitness experts using proven workout methods.

The high-intensity circuit training app comes loaded with 72 types of exercises in varying stages of difficulty that target key areas: total body, lower body, upper body and core. It has ready-made workouts suitable for beginners all the way up to advanced workout enthusiasts, with sessions lasting from seven minutes to 32 minutes. The app includes a “Smart Workout” setting, which works based on each person’s feedback. It curates a workout session based on your fitness level, motivation level and personal taste; the app remembers each exercise move you’ve liked or disliked and builds a personalised exercise plan based on that.

In the age of internet stardom, no fitness guru shines quite like Cassey Ho, a pilates instructor based in Los Angeles. She shot to fame after posting upbeat tutorial videos on her YouTube channel, Blogilates. She has since gained almost 3 million subscribers, penned a book, created her own active wear line and pioneered a new style of pilates merged with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) dubbed PIIT28. She also has an app to add to her impressive list of achievements.

Ho’s app includes her regular YouTube videos and app-exclusive video workouts. The highlight of the app is her workout timer, which you can set to her monthly-updated workout calendar. You set the number of moves, rounds, and get moving as it guides you through the moves and rest periods. There is also a forum section where you can connect with other users, and follow healthy and easy-to-cook recipes.