Whether or not you like the craze of apps and smart phones and non-stop technology, it seems to be all around us. So why not embrace it and use it to benefit our health?! I’ve compiled a list of health-related apps that I think are very beneficial and I’ll explain why. There are obviously tons of apps out there to choose from, these are simply the ones that I have come across and had a chance to try. By the way, I don’t like pay for apps so these are all FREE apps (some of them you can upgrade if you’d like more options).
MyFitnessPal is also a website that you can access without using the app at MyFitnessPal.com. This website and app are great because they have such a large database. I have always found the food I’m looking for including it’s nutritional content, whether it is food from a restaurant or food from the grocery store. It also save the foods you eat to a frequent foods list, which makes it easier to use the more you use the app. You also have the option of entering your own food, in case you order from a food service company such as Granola Girl Gourmet. There is also a way to track the amount of water you consume, which we all know drinking enough water is just as important as what we eat.
Since it is tracking your food calories, there is also a place to enter your exercise for the day. Then it subtracts your calories burned through exercise from your calories consumed from food. That way you don’t have to guess about whether your workout cancelled out that donut for breakfast! Just kidding, I know none of you are eating donuts for breakfast
Initially I found this app as MapMyRUN, however it is so much more than that. This app also has a website MapMyFitness.com. The app uses GPS from your device to track your movement through your run, bike ride, or swim (provided you have a waterproof cover for your device). It shows a map of your route, tells you your pace, how many calories you burned, etc, as well as let’s you immediately post to Facebook or Twitter and/or connect with friends that also use the app. You can also manually log a workout at the gym or other sports activity. For motivational purposes, it is helpful because it sends you email updates of your weekly log (if you opt in for this service).
This app has also added a nutrition tracking option. I was already using MyFitnessPal so I don’t use it much, but it allows you track calories, water consumed and your weight.
This app allows you to use your device’s camera to scan a food’s barcode, and/or allows you to search manually for products or browse by category. For each product, Fooducate highlights things such as excessive sugar, additives and preservatives, controversial food colorings, etc. The best part is, it makes it simple. Each product gets a letter grade (i.e., B+, A-, C+) and it highlights the reasons this grade was awarded as well as the calories per serving. Essentially it helps you read food labels without having to know what each ingredient is and why it is good or bad! This app has an informative website, Fooducate.
CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest) Chemical Cuisine is a list of food additives with their assigned safety rating. Safety ratings awarded are: Safe, Cutback, Avoid, Caution, and Certain People Should Avoid. Each rating is explained in the app and the website, CSPI Safety. If there is an ingredient in your food that is unknown, you can find it in the Chem Cuisine database to understand whether it should be consumed or not. It’s amazing that we still have to check these things, because if it’s in food we should be able to eat it… but that’s not always the case.
The Instant Heart Rate app by Modula allows you to place your finger over the camera light to read your heart rate. You can enter your Resting Heart Rate and other information in the settings tab and the app will estimate your Heart Rate Target Zones (see previous post Heart Rate Monitor for more information on Heart Rate Zones). The app will also store your heart rate, which is very helpful if you have high blood pressure, etc. This is the same idea as a heart rate monitor, but more accessible since you don’t have to be wearing a chest strap. However, during exercise, a heart rate monitor is preferred.
Fitness Buddy is a list of strength training exercises with descriptions and pictures listed by body part. It also provides a number of exercise routines, a way to create your own exercise routines and way to track your workouts by calendar date. Obviously, as a personal trainer, I will mention that form is extremely important. If you are not familiar with an exercise, do not perform it simply by looking at a picture on an app. Unfortunately the custom exercise option is an upgrade, but it is offered. This is a good way to track your gym workouts and the specific exercises performed.
As I said, there are tons of apps out there to choose from… but this list might help you get started. If you’re addicted to technology, maybe you can become addicted to one of these apps and improve your health at the same time! As always, contact me with any questions.
Healthy, happy living!