Best Walking App of 2023: Top Choices for Community, Hiking, and More

group walking in a park


What can make a good walk even better? The best walking app lets you track the details of your walk, helping you be a more consistent walker and creating community around this most fundamental form of human exercise! Lace up your best walking shoes and let's dive in!

Walking apps and walking trackers have been around…well, not as long as walking, but definitely as long as apps! But the latest generation of them bring innovative tracking and community features that make them a crucial accessory right up there with your favorite footwear and sunhat. If you're only tracking steps that's fine, but if you're looking to enjoy all the physical and mental health benefits that walking can create, then you need to try these apps!

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The Best Walking App - Our Top Picks

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Best Overall Walking App - MapMyWalk

Under Armour Map My Walk

SPECS

  • Platforms: iOS, Android
  • Features: Tracks all walking stats. Also includes community and training features.

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MapMyWalk, part of the Under Armour suite of fitness tracking apps, combines a simple tracking tool with many more advanced features. The opening screen allows you to start with a single button push, tracking your walk's duration, distance, pace, steps, calories, and elevation. And it's not just a walking app! You can also track runs, biking, or workouts.

Connecting the app to a wide range of heart rate and other devices is simple and straightforward, but not necessary. You can set goals, view your routes and history, and even do a wide range of non-walking video workouts including strength training, yoga, interval training, and "low-impact strength." Have friends with the app? You can share your walks with them, or on the simple MapMyWalk community feed.

What We Like

  • Beginner-friendly and easy to get started
  • Syncs with other devices seamlessly
  • Wide range of accessory workouts included in free version

What We Don't Like

  • Have to upgrade to paid to get some features other apps do for free, like sharing your real-time location for safety
  • Easy to get lost in workout routines without being able to pick "favorites"

BUY: MapMyWalk by Under Armour

Best Walking App for Weight Loss - Argus

Argus

SPECS

  • Platforms: iOS, Android
  • Features: Tracks all walking stats. Also includes community and training features.

Walking is a fantastic way to help take control of your weight. But things get a bit more complicated when you're trying to lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off. At that point, taking a deeper look at how you eat, sleep, drink, and exercise is necessary. The app Argus allows you to dive into all of them, from a single unique honeycomb-shaped menu screen.

The basic features of Argus' walk tracking are on par with all of the other best apps here. And the nutrition database is straightforward and easy to navigate, using barcodes, brand names, meal histories, or even an AI food recognition capability. But Argus can also track daily steps, water intake, coffee intake, sleep, and more, showing them all to you on a single screen. It'll go as deep as you want to go.

What We Like

  • Easy to track a wide variety of activities and life rituals
  • Walking tracker is simple and straightforward
  • Free macro counting and food database
  • Free workouts for a range of equipment

What We Don't Like

  • Steeper learning curve than pure walking apps
    Meal plans and basic recipes require premium membership

Best Free Walking App - Nike Run Club

Nike Run Club

SPECS

  • Platforms: iOS, Android
  • Features: Tracks walking and running stats. Many training plans, large community.

The Nike Run Club app offers most of what the other walking and running apps do, but without the constant drumbeat of "upgrade for more" reminders. In fact, everything within the app is available for free. Tracking, full training plans, clubs, and challenges—none of them cost extra. And the activity tracker itself is just as simple and intuitive as MapMyWalk or Strava, but maybe even easier if you own an iPhone. It integrates your Apple Music and/or Spotify accounts instantly, and syncs with the iOS health and activity trackers seamlessly.

So what's the catch? This is definitely an app built for runners. The tracker asks you to "start a run," and walking isn't an option. The training plans? They're all for running races. No, you won't get kicked off of the app for walking, but if you're sensitive to "runner judgment," then consider Strava or MapMyRun instead.

What We Like

  • Easy to start tracking and view activity
  • Integrates Apple Music and Spotify
  • Free training plans and "guided runs"
  • Training plans for beginners and more advanced athletes

What We Don't Like

  • Can't choose "walking" as an activity. So to the app, you're just a really slow runner.
  • Integration with Android devices not quite as seamless as Apple

Best Walking App for Community - Strava

Strava

SPECS

  • Platforms: iOS, Android
  • Features: Tracks walking, running, wide range of activities. Robust global community.

Over the last decade, Strava has grown from a tracking app to one of the world's premiere fitness communities. In fact, pretty much all the other apps here have the ability to "share to Strava!" If you have serious runners, walkers, or cyclists in your life, they're probably already on Strava, sharing every step, joining challenges, and being one another's support system. It's an incredibly positive corner of the exercise universe…unless you beat someone's long-held "best time" on a certain route. Then things get very serious.

While the free version is perfectly adequate for daily walking, upgrading to the paid version of Strava adds some big perks. You can plan out and discover new hiking and walking routes, create personalized group challenges, and push yourself with Strava's proprietary and very clever "Relative Effort" scale.

What We Like

  • Simple, straightforward tracker
  • Immense global community in "groups"
  • Easy to connect with and follow friends, family, and celebrities
  • Free location sharing with 3 "safety contacts"

What We Don't Like

  • Learning curve steeper than MapMyWalk
  • Free version has bombardment of pushes to upgrade to premium

Best Walking App for Treadmills - Virtual Walk

Walk the Distance

SPECS

  • Platforms: iOS, Android
  • Features: Tracks walking and running, overlaid exotic maps and locations

Watching game shows on the treadmill is not motivating enough? The app Virtual Walk can transport your everyday walk across the world. Every step you take is plotted on a map through a scenic or historic location. These range from cities like New York and Barcelona to famous hikes and trails like the Camino de Santiago, Appalachian Trail, or Pacific Crest Trail.

Need a bit more visual stimulation? Once you "arrive" at checkpoints along the route, you can check out photos and learn about the sights along the way. You can also catch up with and pass (or get passed by) walkers on the same route as you. Some routes are entirely available for free, while others are partially free, and some cost extra.

What We Like

  • Tracks equally well using GPS or steps on a treadmill
  • Interesting locations with beautiful photography
  • Built-in competition with fellow hikers
  • Add-on walks are inexpensive

What We Don't Like

  • Tracking is limited to distance
  • Fairly limited route options currently

Best Hiking App - AllTrails Pro

Alltrails Pro

SPECS

  • Platforms: iOS, Android
  • Features: Trail database, downloadable maps 

There are many free hiking and backcountry travel apps, but not all of them are equally reliable or accurate. When you're deep in the mountains or in the forest, you need a map you can trust, and an app that won't crash! AllTrails hits the sweet spot of functionality and comprehensiveness, allowing you to choose from tens of thousands of trails worldwide, and showing you exactly where you are.

The free version of the app might be enough if you're only hiking where you know you have cell service. If not, the upgrade to Pro gives you the ability to download maps (I recommend this highly). Not sure if a trail is right for you? Most trails feature numerous trip reports and reviews from users trying to help each other out.

What We Like

  • Immense library of choices, with more arriving all the time
  • Great for exploring new hikes near you
  • Offline functionality is reliable

What We Don't Like

  • User comments and guidance on trails can be unreliable
  • Maps are large downloads best done on WiFi, not at trailheads
  • Immense database can be hard to navigate

Best App and Device Combo for Walking - FitBit

FitBit

SPECS

  • Platforms: iOS, Android
  • Features: Trail database, downloadable maps

Most of the apps featured here can integrate with some of the health tracking capabilities in your phone, or advanced wearables like an Apple Watch or FitBit. But if you're one of the over 120 million people who have purchased a FitBit in particular, the FitBit app can take that device to the next level.

The app opens with a simple, three-tab display, by far the simplest interface of the apps on this list. The "today" tab shows your tracked activity, exercise, weight, water, and gives the option of logging your food. The other two tabs, "Discover" and "Community" give you the opportunity to dive deeper into workouts, health stats, and find friends with the app. And if you want to get more systematic, FitBit premium offers coach-led workouts and advanced analysis of sleep, recovery, and a wide variety of health markers.

What We Like

  • Simple "wear it and forget it" tracking
  • Food tracking, menstrual health, and blood glucose tracking all included in free version
  • Community tab syncs easily with contacts or existing FitBit users

What We Don't Like

  • Premium membership more expensive per month than other options
  • Fairly limited functionality without a FitBit device

How to Choose the Best Walking App


Features

Do you just want simple tracking for your walks? Then you have plenty of options. But if you want to take some of what you're currently doing in OTHER apps and do it in your walking app, you'll need to eyeball the features more strategically. Some apps here, like MapMyWalk, feature follow-along strength workouts and yoga. Others, like Argus, allow you to track everything from calories to water intake along with your steps.

Community

If all you want is a tracker to keep you from getting lost and tell you what you've done, then community features may just feel like noise. But millions of people find that being part of a fitness community keeps them motivated and accountable. If this sounds like you, find out what walking apps your friends already use, or consider one with a large existing community like Strava.

Walking Apps vs. Running Apps

In their basic functionality, walking apps and running apps aren't that different. If you want something that will record your distance, time, speed, and give you a map so you don't get lost, either one will do. If you want a walking-focused training plan or community group, though, choosing an app with more of a walking focus is important. The Nike Run Club, for example, does basic tracking well but only offers running-focused plans and groups.

FAQs About Walking Apps


How much should I walk a day?

There's no magic number of steps, but the common benchmark of 8,000-10,000 steps per day has done wonders for many people. This is easier than you think! If you go for a 5-10 minute walk after meals and park a little farther away than usual, you can get most of the way there!

What is the simplest walking app?

If you're looking for an app that you can simply open up and start tracking, MapMyWalk can have you going in just a couple of minutes. Strava also offers the same single-button, "just press start and go" tracking. Both also allow you to use your Google or Facebook accounts to sign in. No new passwords required!

Does walking help with weight loss?

Walking burns calories very effectively, and can help you lose weight at a safe, sustainable pace. That said, it works even better alongside some strategic strength training, as well as taking a hard look at the places where extra calories might be "sneaking" into your day.

About the Author

Nick Collias

Nick Collias is a writer and editor with over 12 years of experience working in health and fitness. Prior to that, he spent a decade as a print and online journalist, as well as a book author, ghostwriter, and editor.

See More from Nick

Nick Collias is a writer and editor with over 12 years of experience working in health and fitness. Prior to that, he spent a decade as a print and online journalist, as well as a book author, ghostwriter, and editor.

See More from Nick

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