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Apps provide motivation while exercising

A neighbor, Karen White, ran past several times while I was walking the dog on a recent morning. She rounded our circle again and abruptly stopped in front of me, pulled the headphones from her ears, and announced, "Done."

"Done what?" I asked. So she explained. Karen was running with the help of the Nike GPS phone application, by Nike Inc. When she reached her 5K goal, a friendly voice had cut in on her musical soundtrack to announce the milestone, her time and speed, and, by the way, what a good job Karen had done.

Nike's free Nike Training Club for iPhone, aimed at women, coaches you through full-body workouts with set goals such as "get lean," "get strong" and "get focused."

Nike GPS costs $1.99 and is the GPS-enhanced version of an app that came preloaded with my iPhone. That version works only with a pedometer sensor that Nike sells separately and that you attach to your running shoe. With GPS, there's no need for the pedometer.

Whether you run, or walk as I do, the GPS app measures and maps your route. If you want, it'll post a note to Twitter or Facebook when you start out, and you'll hear a canned cheer when your followers or friends on those services respond with a comment or hit the "like" button.

Skimble GPS Sports Tracker is a free app from Skimble Inc. that will do much of what the Nike app does, or track your progress in 45 sporting activities. It's available for iPhone and Android. You can register with Skimble's website using your Facebook account and upload geo-tagged photos while you're out and about.

But if you want to get the sort of audio feedback that Nike provides during your run or bike ride, or if you want to use Skimble off-line or without seeing advertisements on the screen, it costs $9.99 for a year.

Workout Trainer is a free Skimble companion app that has dozens of workouts for the gym, or for weightlifting, yoga, or even rock climbing. You pick a workout that can be as short as five intense minutes, and do the called-for exercises while a timer counts and a robotic voice announces what exercise to do next.

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