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I’m sure you’ve heard the modern-day cliché, “There’s an app for that.” But if you want to be more proactive about your health and fitness, it’s absolutely true!
Today, smartphone applications can measure distance and pace, provide weight training and flexibility routines, report restaurant nutritional information, offer daily healthy recipes and food ideas, predict exercise calories expended, plan daily exercise and diet, and even measure your heart rate. Some apps combine exercise, diet, motivational tools and other information, so you don’t have even need to juggle multiple apps.
However, choosing the right app for you can be overwhelming. There thousands out there, so you must first choose an app that meets your needs. There are many really good free apps, as well as some great ones that cost only a few dollars. Some apps take considerable setup time—not only requiring personal information but goals and objectives as well—and some may require continual data input after eating or working out. Become familiar with the features of each so you can maximize the functions you use.
It’s also important to recognize that an app is not a substitute for the knowledge and experience of your physician, therapist or fitness & nutrition specialist. Using apps in combination with direction from a health care professional can help you stay on track so you can reach your health and fitness goals.
I’ve investigated a number of health-related smartphone apps, and I’d like to share some of my favorites with you.
Fitness and Tracking Apps
Endomondo – This app is part training coach, part fitness social network. Whether you’re running, cycling, or skiing, this app records your stats in real time. Find other fit friends and see their workouts, send them live pep talks and even race against them!
MapMyFitness, MapMyRun, MapMyWalk, MapMyRide – These are GPS apps that track your route, determine your distance and calories burned, store workout history with personal best performances, and also give you encouraging comments during your workout. They link with social networking sites like Facebook so you can share your workouts with friends and allow people to track their progress online with real-time maps.
Nike+ – The Nike+ Running App tracks your runs and helps you reach your goals – whether it’s running your first race or setting a new personal record. From first-time runners to marathon veterans, you’ll get the measurement and motivation you need to run farther and faster than ever before.
Body Fitness and Jefit give you resistance training workouts, ranging from beginner to advanced, to meet your goals of general muscle toning or bodybuilding. These two specific apps provide workout information with sets and repetitions per exercise and also let you customize the app to meet your fitness goals.
Apps by lolo – Whether your goal is to lose weight, get into the best shape of your life or run a 5K, lolo has an app for you. Some are free and some cost about $2.
Interval Timer by Deltaworks – Running and strength and interval training can fast-track your fitness results. But constantly checking a timer can distract and drop your intensity. This app does the timing for you and lets you build custom workouts set to your favorite tunes.
The Yoga App – Feeling stressed and don’t have time to get to a yoga class? No problem, this app gives yoga sessions on your phone.
Stretch On-The-Go – This app is a must for anyone who spends most of their day sitting at their desk. From your phone you will have access to flexibility movements that can stretch a single muscle or region of the body. There are instructions, pictures and videos depicting how the stretch is to be performed.
Diet and Weight Management Apps
MyFitnessPal – Medical studies prove that the best way to lose weight and keep it off forever is to simply keep track of the foods you eat. This app is a straightforward and simple diet and fitness tracking tool that’s perfect for the person who wants basic features without a lot of bells and whistles. It offers a food diary, an exercise log, a few simple tools and a community forum for asking questions and getting advice.
A few of my favorite features are the ‘Quick Tools’ option which allows you to quickly enter calories, previous meals or recent exercises and workouts. I also love that it has a barcode scanner that allows you to scan the foods you eat and then it provides the nutrition information to add to your diary.
Linking up with a pal keeps you motivated and on track. There is nothing more motivating then seeing that your friend just completed a workout while you were sitting on the couch. MyFitnessPal is a good choice for those who want the basics without much detailed analysis of diet and fitness goals
Lose It! – To lose weight you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. But in real life, it’s easy to lose sight of that balance. Not with this digital gem. By tracking each bite of food and every minute of exercise, it continually updates you on your daily calorie “budget” so you stay within your goals.
Fast Food Calorie Lookup – This is a great app for anyone who wants to make healthy choices and monitor caloric intake with fast food. This app has about 140 different restaurants in its database and is constantly being updated. No food calorie app will have all the eateries in your city, but most chain restaurants are listed in Fast Food Calorie Lookup. Some seasonal specials might not be listed, though.
Symptom Monitoring & Health Condition Tracking
iTriage – Manage your health and the health conditions of loved ones at home or on the go. The app is free and lets you search symptoms and find possible causes; research conditions and medication; find health care facilities and doctors with turn-by-turn directions; and securely and conveniently store your health information.
Recommendations for Setting Up the Health App You Choose
Two recommendations for these apps are:
- First, take plenty of time when you set up these apps with your personal information, goals and current fitness level.
- Second, enter your data frequently. If you are using an exercise app, make sure you enter exercise data into the app after each workout is completed so it will continue to give progressive workouts over time. For your food tracking, it is best to do it as soon as you eat. Don’t wait until the end of the day or you may forget a tidbit here and there, resulting in incorrect data.
In the comments, let me know if I forgot to mention your favorite health app, or share your experience with any of the apps I mentioned. Here’s to better management of your fitness and health in 2014!
Perhaps you already use a fitness app but need some advice from a diet or exercise professional. Mercy Weight Management and Mercy Health & Fitness can assist! Located in Canton, Ohio, area, our personal trainers and therapists can give you expert advice on all aspects of wellness.
About The Author
Kathy G. Wise RD LD CWC, CWP Director, Health & Wellness, Mercy Medical Center 1320 Mercy Drive NW, Canton, OH 44708 | 330-489-1479 firstname.lastname@example.org