How to keep fit with your iOS device

With the right apps, kit and attitude, your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch can make you healthy, happy and fit. Go for it!

The Nike ecosystem


In May 2006, the Nike+ iPod system was revealed, and it was quite a big deal. It was one of the highest-profile partnerships Apple had or has ever made, and Apple is a company famous for doing its own thing; other companies, the impression given seems to be, aren't up to Apple's standards.

Originally, you put a sensor into one of a very small number of Nike trainers, and plugged a receiving dongle into an iPod, all in aid of tracking your runs, and playing motivating playlists while you jogged. These days - ever since the second-generation iPod touch, in fact - iPhones and iPod touches have the receiver built in, and all you have to do is enable the built-in app by going to Settings and flicking the switch to On in the Nike+ iPod section.

What's more, there's a huge range of Nike trainers now that can accept the sensor, or - though Nike doesn't recommend it - you can attach it to non-Nike shoes with an adapter such as the LaceLid. We mention this not only because the Nike+ iPod system remains a great way to track your runs today, but also to demonstrate the company's legacy here.

Its range of accessories and apps - mostly linking live to iOS devices - has greatly broadened, especially in the last year or so, but it's the company that first saw and realised the potential for augmenting a device you carried with you everywhere with a few extra sensors to make every workout - or even just a walk to the shops for a pint of milk - count.

Fuel's gold

And although Nike's gadgets and services don't quite yet all hook up to a common platform, things are moving in that direction. It has introduced the concept of NikeFuel, a synthetic measure of activity and energy expended, and new accessories will be able to record using this, making it easy to increase your NikeFuel count no matter what you're doing.

Though we still like the venerable Nike+ iPod system, there are newer technologies out there to give you even more detail and even more training support. The Nike+ Training shoes have more built-in sensors that provide much more granular data, transmitting it live to your iPhone over Bluetooth not only so you can track and monitor your activity, but also to hook into daily training sessions from pros.

The Nike Hyperdunk+ trainers for basketball are even more, um, redunkulous. A system of sensors embedded in their soles will transmit your performance back to your iPhone or iPod touch, and can tell you an amazing amount about how you're doing - including how high you jump and your hangtime. All this is converted to NikeFuel, and you can share your results with your friends.

Free running

You don't need to buy expensive trainers, though, especially if you just want to have a go and see if it's for you. The free Nike+ Running app uses your iPhone's GPS and/or accelerometer to record your progress. You can easily display GPS-tracked runs on maps, share them on the web and more - even having your friends on Facebook and Path cheer you on.

It's rich, accurate and free; the only bad thing is that you have to use either this or the Nike+ iPod sensor; you can't really use both at once.