The Top Five Fitness Apps for First Responders

Get fit with these five must-have fitness apps for firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics.

Physical and mental stress have become ever more prevalent in our society.  We, as first responders (firefighters, EMTs, and medics) are on the front lines of this stress and face it daily. This continued exposure to stress can take a toll on our physical and mental health, making it imperative that we find ways to continually manage our physical and mental health.  One way is to embrace technology and find apps and platforms that can help.  In today's world, there are countless fitness apps to choose from. So, which one should you download if you're a firefighter?

 

Here are five must-have fitness apps that can every first responder can benefit from!

 

My Fitness Pal

If you're looking for a fitness app that is incredibly easy to use, look no further than MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal app is owned by Under Armour and is one of the most widely used fitness apps on the market.  Their unique selling point is -“your best meal calorie tracking“.  The app is free to use, they do offer a premium version that adds some additional tracking points and recipes.  After experimenting with the MyFitnessPal app for a while now, I surely can affirm: it is the most comprehensive and easiest calorie counter out there. Enter your desired weight and they will automatically calculate your daily calorie intake. The simple "add" and barcode scanning functions make it incredibly easy to track your food intake and calculate macros and daily nutrition.  In addition, the app's ability to recall foods you've eaten in the past made adding them to your diary quick and easy. Overall, I found MyFitnessPal to be user-friendly and convenient.  I recommend using it every once in a while to help you track your calorie intake and get a better understanding of the nutrients and macros in your diet. 

 

The Healthy Recipes App (from Spark Recipes)

The healthy recipes app (Free; iOS and Android) is from the same folks behind SparkPeople.com, a popular diet, and calorie-tracking website. As a result, SparkRecipes is similarly focused on helping users cook healthy and lean meals.  The app and desktop website list over 500,000 recipes organized into a wide variety of categories (low-carb, high-protein, 30-minute, etc.).  Each recipe has nutritional values and most allow you to change the number of servings to help you scale for different size families and crews.  The nutritional values are very detailed unlike some diet apps, which give you only a brief overview.  Each recipe gives macros, sugar, fiber, fat, potassium, fiber, and sugar.  You can also save your favorites for easy use.  This is a great app for any first responder that routinely needs some quick and healthy recipes for themselves, their family, and/or their crew. 

Strava

Strava is a fitness app that many firefighters use to track their fitness activities. It is a great way to see how long you are working out for and to set goals. The app can be used for running, biking, and swimming and will track your progress over time.  The app will also map your route and update you on your minutes per mile split times to help keep you motivated to improve.  This is very similar to other tracking apps but what sets Strava apart is the great social features of the app.   The app allows users to connect with friends, family, and crew members who also use the app.  This connection provides motivation and encouragement to achieve fitness goals.  When my brother was training for the FRF 5K Virtual Workout, he and I connected on the app.  We used our workouts and runs to compete and motivate each other.   If you like competition and tracking cardiovascular progress then Stava should definitely be on your phone. 

 

The Healthy Minds App

The Healthy Minds app is a product from the world-renowned neuroscientist Dr. Richard J. Davidson, and the Center for Healthy Minds.   The app is free and relies on grants and donations to offer scientifically researched and backed exercises and resources that help improve mental health. It was designed with first responders in mind but is open to anyone who wants to improve their mental wellness. The app has three main goals: education, self-care, and peer support. The education goal provides users with access to scientifically-based information about mental health and its treatment. The self-care goal offers users evidence-based resources for managing stress and improving their overall wellbeing. The peer support goal connects users with a community of people who understand the challenges of living with a mental illness.  I personally utilize the active practices and educational resources and find them very valuable for managing stress.  The app also does not continually hound you to upgrade and subscribe like other mental health apps on the market (Calm...just saying).  This is a must-download for every first responder looking to reduce stress and be happier. 

Fire Rescue Fitness App

I might be a little biassed on this one!  At the beginning of 2022, FRF launched its very own platform that includes numerous upgrades including an extensive FRF exercise library, discussion board, direct messaging to coaches, and ways to swap exercises based on equipment.   This app allows users to log FRF workouts, view and follow all of the FRF eating guides, recipes, and exercises.  The GETFRF app also gives users the ability to track their progress and directly communicate with the owner (ZAM) and other first responder athletes all over the world. 

If you are a firefighter, EMT, medic, and/or any type of a first responder that wants to lose weight, gain strength, and improve your performance on (and off) the fire/ rescue scene then this app is for you!  The app does offer an introductory 2-week workout and access to eating guides and fitness tips.  The best way to get full access is to start any FRF program.  I suggest the FRF 40-day Resilience Challenge!  This is the most complete "habit building" program for first responders.  The program educates and "challenges" you to create healthy habits that will help you lose weight, gain strength and improve your performance on and off the fire/rescue scene.  Get Started Today (click here).

This by no means is the ultimate list. If you have some apps that should be on this list, please contact me or leave a comment.  These apps are helping me get and stay fit for duty and I know they will help you too!

Stay safe and GET FRF!

-Aaron Zamzow (with help from FRF Nation member Josh Fulk)

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