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Just 30 minutes of walking a day is a fantastic way to increase your cardiovascular fitness and boost your overall health. Walking is a particularly great form of physical activity for those who haven’t exercised in a while, are looking to start working on their weight, or the elderly.

Whether you’re just starting out with a 10-minute stroll or you’re an experienced hiker, using a walking app is a great idea. Not only will it help you stay motivated to get some extra steps in, but many will also track your progress, encourage you to hit your goals, and connect you with other walkers and friends.

Here are 15 of our favourite apps – and best of all, they are free! All you need is a smartphone and comfortable walking shoes, and you’re good to go.

1. Map My Walk
One of the most well-known apps out there, Map My Walk allows you to track your own walking workouts and view popular routes other people take in your area. You can also save and load your favourite routes and share them with friends. It allows you to see key stats like time spent walking, distance, pace, speed, elevation and calories burned.

2. Google Fit
Google Fit monitors your walking activity and rewards you with “Heart Points.” The app will tell you how far you’ve walked, how many steps you’ve taken, how many calories you’ve burned, as well as how many minutes you’ve been active.

3. Argus
This lifestyle app is a great way to get an overview of how physically active and healthy you are each day. It enables you to track your heart rate, sleep, activity level and even your food intake. Yes, that’s right, you can create your own food diary and meal planner. It’s also beautifully laid out in a colourful and easy-to-digest way.

4. Footpath
This awesome GPS app allows you to plan custom walking routes with ease. Trace a map with your finger, and Footpath will snap to roads and trails. Measure the distance and height you’ll be climbing in seconds, then follow along with turn-by-turn voice navigation. It offers advanced route planning features, such as colour-coded elevation profiles, custom waypoints and route organisation. It also allows you to save and share routes for a later walk, and it can work offline too.

5. Nike Run Club
Yes, the name is deceiving, but this popular app can be used for walking too. Not only does Nike Run Club track your distance walked and pace, but it also offers access to personal coaches so you can stay motivated – almost like having a personal trainer in your headphones. The guided walks are a standout feature – simply switch it on at the start of your walk and the narrator will talk you through. And who knows, maybe it will lead you to start running too.

6. World Walking
Now this is cool – and it was devised by a cardiac rehab instructor. Can’t take a real holiday? With World Walking you can discover a new part of the globe while you walk. Pick from over 300 iconic routes from around the world, such as the Machu Picchu Inca Trail in Peru, and you’ll be given an overview of the area and highlight of the walk ahead. You will also receive photos of milestones as you go and can get looped in with Google Street View when it’s available.

7. All Trails
All Trails was just awarded the iPhone App of the Year by Apple, and we just LOVE its mission – to help as many people as possible explore the outdoors and experience the “mental and physical health benefits of time in nature.” The app features a mix of interactive trail maps and tools to help plan an outdoor excursion, including national park guides and an “Advanced Conditions” feature so you can check weather, ground conditions, and even mosquito activity. All Trails has a community of more than 60 million people worldwide, plus more than 420,00 curated trail routes across 191 countries. And while it also includes personal stats and achievements, the company emphasises it’s meant to help anyone interested in heading outside – it’s not a competitive fitness or endurance app. It also includes dog, child and wheelchair-friendly trails.

8. StepsApp
If you’re after something simple, StepsApp is it. Just pop your phone in your pocket and off you go. The app will track your steps and show your stats in a clear and simple way. It can even monitor arm pushes for wheelchair users.

9. Fitbit MobileTrack
You don’t need to have a Fitbit watch to use this app – but it is compatible with them, plus a range of other wearable devices. Fitbit mainly focuses on your physical activity during a walk by using the motion sensor on your phone, rather than routes in your area. However, it does track a lot of health and fitness data, including your daily steps and heart rate, and also calculates how many calories you’ve burned according to your height, weight, age and sex. You can also participate in challenges and virtual races with friends.

11. Charity Miles
If you need more motivation to get out the door and go for a walk, this could be it. Charity Miles allows you to raise money for a good cause while you exercise. The app donates 25 cents for every mile you run, walk or bike, using your phone’s built-in pedometer or Bluetooth-attached step tracker. Keep your heart healthy while you make an impact with every step. Win, win!

12. Sweatcoin
In a similar sort of vein, Sweatcoin is a free app that rewards your daily steps with a digital currency you can spend on various products or donate to charity. Their tagline – “It pays to walk. Healthier planet. Healthier, wealthier you” sums it up. The rewards you can get are varied, including sports watches, music downloads or e-books, organised through their brand partners. Sweatcoin is one of a number of growing “get paid to exercise” apps.

13. Walking for Weight Loss
This app for iPhone users is a professional interval walking fitness plan specially designed for weight loss. Combining walking exercises with the speed-up method, it is said to help you effectively burn fat and lose weight in a short time. Walking for Weight Loss provides three difficulty levels of walking exercises and supports both outdoor walks and indoor treadmill workouts.

14. Strava
There is a reason Strava is one of the most popular fitness apps worldwide. Originally designed as a running and cycling tracking app, it now allows you to track many other sports like canoeing or badminton – and of course, walking. Described as a social media app, it has social features so you can add photos to runs and share to sites like Facebook. Casual walkers will love the free version, but there is also a subscription version with many additional features, including a training log, route setting, and a beacon to let your friends or family know your live location.

15. Walkmeter
This application has loads of features including maps, graphs, training plans, private tracking and audio feedback. In fact, it’s said to track more than 250 statistics. While you’re out walking, you can automatically share your live location, path and fitness stats with family and friends – brilliant for solo strollers to help keep you safe and motivated. They can also type in comments on your workout, which will be spoken to you using text-to-speech. Walkmeter can be used for a range of fitness activities (including walking, running, cycling and skiing) and allows you to set and hear split, lap and interval information.

16. Pacer
This app consistently gets great reviews and is said to be one of the most comprehensive pedometer apps out there that does not require a wearable device. It is easy to use, tracks a wealth of health metrics, and also has strong community support features. Pacer has many walking groups to join and challenges you can participate in. It even includes 12-week fitness plans and some free video workouts.

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