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When it comes to cardio workouts, activities like running and spinning often get all the glory. But for people trying to get in some movement, sometimes those high-intensity workouts aren’t compatible with their body. Or, they’re just simply not a fan—a totally fair choice. While cardio exercise comes in many forms, one of the most straightforward is actually walking.
Yes, walking is a legitimate way to move your body, whether you stick to a leisurely pace or go at it with speed, flying elbows and all. If you’re the type who likes to track your steps and heart rate or needs a little guidance to get moving, a walking app is a handy-dandy tool.
What should you look for in a walking app? Like running apps, fitness expert Anthony Crouchelli says metrics, maps, and GPS are imperative features in a walking app. Brittany Watts, CPT, says a calorie estimator and pace-setting components are helpful, too.
Before lacing up and getting step happy, Watts says the right pair of sneakers is crucial. “Having the wrong shoe can lead to improper distribution of impact and can lead to injury,” she explains, listing sprained ankles, tendonitis, shin splints, knee injuries, and lower back pain as examples.
Ready to get your walk on? Ahead, we rounded up the best walking apps to get you in the zone.
The 5 Best Walking Apps of 2021
Best Overall: MapMyWalk
Why We Chose It: MapMyWalk is an easy-to-use app for walkers of all levels, tracking your walk with GPS and delivering pertinent stats, from milage to duration and burned calories. Also, its built-in community and challenges keep motivation high.
What We Like
- Easy to use
- Great for all levels
- Pertinent stats
- A sense of community
What We Don’t Like
- Can sync to Under Armour shoes, but not other brands
MapMyWalk by Under Armour uses GPS to calculate data from your walk, including mileage, elevation, calories burned, and duration. At a quick glance, you can trace your route via a red line that echos your every move. For those interested in the nitty-gritty details, the app will break down your performance with easy-to-read charts and graphs with motivating badges to keep you striving.
The app syncs to Under Armor shoes, instantly tracking everything from your average pace and cadence to your stride length. It even calculates your total distance and step count and will tell you when it last synced. Personalized coaching tips are offered along the way, too—an excellent feature for users seeking more guidance.
But one of the most-loved features of MapMyWalk is the ability to save your favorite routes or find new ones to explore. Wherever you are around the world—be it your neighborhood or exploring on vacation—you can discover new routes and load your saved favorites.
MapMyWalk also has a community page where users can connect, share their results, and support each other. Whether you want to start challenges with friends to push your crew, set group goals, or experience the same walks together, the community aspects are available with every step.
This free app is compatible with Apple Watch, Samsung Gear, Garmin, Suunto Polar, and Fitbit—plus, it connects to most Bluetooth devices. Monthly MVP and Annual MVP are available for about $6 and roughly $30, respectively.
Best for Fitness: Walkmeter
Why We Chose It: Walkmeter stands out for its impressive features and maps, which are ideal for fitness walkers looking to improve speed and distance.
What We Like
- Seamless to use
- Tons of data, including GPS
- Training plans
- Voice-activation controls for hands-free use
- Live tracking and messaging capabilities
What We Don’t Like
- Can be overly complicated for true beginners
- GPS can lose signal in more remote locations
- Elite features cost extra
Walkmeter is a GPS-powered walking and hiking app geared toward fitness walkers. If you’ve been looking for a low-impact way to burn calories and get your heart pumping, this app is for you.
The app uses GPS to track your walk’s distance with an icon that follows your position and indicates where you are on your screen. Other data tracked includes heart rate, speed, step count and cadence, and your ascent and descent. The app automatically detects stops, records temperature and weather conditions, and shows you terrain and traffic with Google Maps. To easily view and analyze all of your stats and maps, simply swipe across the stopwatch.
Walkmeter features voice-enabled controls via Siri for hands-free use. You can choose from hundreds of configurable announcements, whether you want to start or stop your walk and ask for on-demand statistics like distance, time, speed, elevation, heart rate, and distance intervals.
You can share your workout data on MyFitnessPal, Strava, Facebook, Twitter, and via email, and listen to replies from your friends via text-to-speech about your workout posts while you walk. Live tracking is also available (only with friends you invite)—an enjoyable social and safety feature.
Walkmeter also offers training plans for 5k and 10k programs and half and full marathon plans. You can also design your own and synchronize them with your iPhone calendar. Compare your data with previous walks by analyzing stats like your split, interval, and zone performance, set targets, and compete against your previous workouts.
The basic version of this app is free, with elite features costing about $10.
Best for Community: Strava
Why We Chose It: Strava is a standout for its essential stats that keep walkers motivated and in-the-know, as well as other tracker and health app integration. The route suggestions are also great for those in need of inspiration.
What We Like
- The community aspect is a draw
- Audio cues
- Easy-to-navigate data dashboard
- Tracks essential stats and has GPS
What We Don’t Like
- Advanced and premium features cost extra
Runners and cyclists of all levels often use the Strava app, but it’s just as great for walkers, too. Strava is renowned for its motivating community features—an enjoyable tool for staying connected throughout your fitness journey, no matter where you and your friends are. Plus, it helps you work toward your walking goals with customizable voice-guided cues.
Whether you want to be alerted about every half-mile accomplished or keep tabs on your pace, elevation, and split times, Strava will notify you to help you stay in the zone. You can record every route and metric by saving the data from each walk and note progress (and can even upload photos, too.)
The Strava app readily shares your stats with your friends, which is a motivating tactic for staying in touch and supporting each other along the way—the app’s “kudos” button is a fan-favorite for encouragement. Walkers of any level can participate in challenges and set goals to achieve personal records or engage in a little friendly competition.
The Strava app is free and ideal for beginners, with in-app purchases available for premium features as you advance.
Best for Wellness: Fitbit
Why We Chose It: The Fitbit app is ideal for walkers of all levels. It tracks sleep and nutrition, providing a comprehensive wellness experience.
What We Like
- Tracks essential walking data, sleep, and nutrition
What We Don’t Like
- Premium features cost extra
- Some users report inconsistencies with calorie count
Wellness enthusiasts are keenly aware of Fitbits and their multiple functionalities—not only can you track your daily steps, but your sleep and nutrition, all in one place! Devices can be costly, but as they say: There’s an app for that! The Fitbit app.
This suitable-for-all-levels app is a go-to for those looking to track their daily steps sans buying a pricey device, but it’s equally as great for those tracking more fitness-focused walks. The app records basic stats like steps, distance, and calories burned, with voice cues available to go hands-free.
If you do level-up with a Fitbit device, you can see your active minutes, trends over time, and set future goals. You can also record your sleep, utilize tools in the app to set a weekly sleep goal, create bedtime reminders and wake targets, and review your sleep trends over time. For performance stats, the Fitbit app will track your pace, time, and distance during walks.
You can also log other workouts in the app to see a comprehensive view of your exercise stats, their impact on your overall day, and how your performance improves. The app offers an exercise calendar for logged workouts, so you can look back on what you’ve accomplished and use data and trends as an extra motivation tool. Plus, you’ll earn badges whenever you hit a milestone or crush a goal for extra encouragement. You can even keep track of your nutrition and log your weight, water intake, and daily food diary.
Social butterflies will enjoy the picture- and stat-sharing capabilities (you can use any social channel or send via email or text.) You can even encourage friends with motivating messages or set up friendly competitions with Fitbit challenges.
The Fitbit app’s basic version is free, with monthly and annual upgrades ranging from about $10 to $80 (for premium features and personal coaching).
Best for Charity: Charity Miles
Why We Chose It: If you're looking to use your time walking to help others, Charity Miles is the app for you.
What We Like
- Charity component
- Gives your walks a purpose
- Works for running and cycling, too
What We Don’t Like
- Minimal fitness tracking, but it can be paired with other apps and trackers
To give a walk more purpose, Charity Miles connects users with causes and people they feel most passionate about while fueling a healthy walking habit. If you're struggling to find motivation, this free app is a great way to inspire more workouts. Since it was founded in 2012, Charity Miles has helped earn nearly $3 million for a range of charities.
Once you download the app, you’ll create an account and select your charity of choice; there are lots to chose from, whether your passion is health, children, animals, the environment, education, veterans, and more. Next, it’s time to get moving! You can log all types of movement in the app—walking, running, biking, even dancing—which is a fun way to mix up your routine.
The app uses your phone’s internal pedometer and GPS to track your distance, and with every mile you move, you'll help earn money for your charity from the app’s corporate sponsorship pool. Many users raise money by participating in races like a 5k, 10k, or marathons. You can also create your own Pledge Page and get sponsored by your friends and family, no race required.
Any walk will do, and donations are unlimited: You set the amount earned per mile. A bonus for donating friends? When they sponsor you, they’re automatically entered into a drawing to win prizes from sponsors, like a trip to Hawaii, There are prizes for app users, too—the more money you earn for a charity, the more chances you’ll have to win prizes (and even more money for your charity) from the app’s sponsors.
An important note: You must post your pledge pages to Facebook or Twitter to accept sponsorship and earn money for your charity. You can also form teams and work together to raise money.
Along the way, you can view your exercise time and miles—select the activity you’re doing, and the app will use GPS to track outdoor movement and your phone’s pedometer sensors for indoor motion. Charity Miles syncs with the Apple Health app, Android internal pedometers, as well as Strava and compatible with Garmin, Peloton, and FitBit.
Choosing a walking app comes down to personal preference, but basic stats like step count, distance, and pace are most helpful. With consistency and best practices at play, you’ll hit your walking stride, no matter your fitness goals. Walking apps can sometimes become static. Crouchelli says to avoid one-dimensional formats as they’re not ideal for someone exercising through walking. Stats are great for fitness-oriented walks, as well as interactive features like suggested routes, mapping, and community features to keep you motivated and consistent. No matter which one you choose, be sure to avoid becoming overly competitive and letting your data intake turn into a distraction or burden.
What Is a Walking App?
A walking app is designed to record data, in some cases, offer training programs and coaching. It also connects walkers of all levels, from beginner and intermediate to advanced.
How Much Does a Walking App Cost?
Many running apps are free but offer in-app upgrades that can range from about $10 for a premium upgrade to roughly $80 for personalized coaching.
How Do I Choose a Walking App?
Look for basic data metrics like step count, total distance, heart rate, and pace tracking. The more advanced you are, additional tracking metrics like mapping, elevation, nutritional stats, and popular and suggested routes will become increasingly beneficial. Audio-guided coaching and cues are helpful features to seek out, as well as an app that can pair with other health and wellness trackers.
How We Chose the Best Walking Apps
We selected the best walking apps based on the professional recommendation of certified trainers. By taking into account the recommended features for various levels (all of these apps can work for beginner, intermediate, and advanced runners), we spotlighted these picks with different walking styles and goals in mind.