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As we begin the new year in 2014, we see the annual return of the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions that everyone loves (hates) so much.  Some of the classics include quitting smoking, taking up a new hobby, and the most prevalent of all: exercise and weight loss.

Naturally, the mobile applications industry has entered the foray in the fitness business by enabling users to more conveniently track exercise and dieting progress.   Here are five fitness mobile apps which do what they do well and have all gained quite a bit of attention recently:

Human (iOS) is geared toward those who are new to a fitness regimen.   The concept is very simple.  Select whether you are walking, running, or biking and the app will track you via GPS during a universal 30-minute time frame to determine your progress.   The app will report on your weekly averages and total active minutes.

MapMyHike(iOS/Android) is geared toward the outdoors enthusiasts.  The app uses real-time tracking via GPS to calculate data such as time, distance, speed, pace, elevation and calories burned.  An interactive map is employed and users can even map out their route in advance.

Runtastic (iOS/Android/Windows/Blackberry) compiles and analyzes the same data metrics as MapMyHike, but is more applicable to urban settings and places more of an emphasis on self-improvement.  Runtastic Users’ route maps, completion times, minutes per mile, and calories are becoming increasingly visible as shared posts on Facebook.  The visual displays and interface are quite appealing.  Runtastic has even expanded its apps offerings to include Runtastic Roadbike, Walktastic, Runtastic Mountain Bike, and even Runtastic Wintersports.

Fitbit (iOS/Android) is a fitness app that includes a hardware bracelet device worn by the user perpetually, even during sleep.   Beyond distance traveled and calories burned, it also tracks steps taken, stairs/elevation climbed, time slept, and even quality of sleep.   It includes a built-in alarm clock, altimeter, and accelerometer.  The bracelet syncs to an iPhone or Android phone via Bluetooth 4.0.  to display the user’s metrics through very attractive charts and graphic displays, which are also viewable afterward on desktops and laptops.  User can choose to compete with their own or others’ stats and also share their numbers on social media.

Larklife  uses a similar bracelet device and includes all of the fitness and sleep-tracking capabilities and displays as Fitbit, but adds smartphone functions geared toward diet.  Coaching tips are offered by top nutritionists, with recommendations often tied to the user’s amount of movement calculated form the bracelet’s accelerometer.  Meals can be logged by simply pressing a few buttons.  Meal alerts are given throughout the day, as timing of meals is often a key component in optimizing calorie burn.  Calorie counting is of primary importance, giving Larklife an edge over fitness apps that only handle physical activity.