Top Apps for Better Health
Counting calories. Tracking your workouts. Managing a chronic condition. Monitoring your sleep patterns. Yes, there are apps for all of that. While they aren’t a substitute for professional medical advice, mobile apps can help us monitor our health and meet our goals. Here are a few top apps getting the nod from experts:
WebMD (free, available for Android and Apple devices)
Designed by medical experts for those of us who don’t have a medical degree, this app brings WebMD’s most popular features to an app — including a Symptom Checker, information about various conditions, a data base of drugs and treatments and a pill identification tool where you can check out a medication based on its size, colour and imprint.
If you don’t have internet access on the go, the app’s First Aid Essentials guide is available offline. We hope you never need to use it, but it’s a handy reference for first aid treatment from everything from insect bites to broken bones.
RunKeeper (available for Android and Apple devices)
Don’t let the name fool you: the app is isn’t just for runners — it’s designed for people who walk, hike and cycle too. Using the GPS in your mobile device, the app tracks not only your route but your pace, distance and time. Built-in audio cues keep you updated on your progress, and you can make use of your device’s sensors to track your heart rate. You can share your pictures and stats with friends through Facebook and Twitter too.
Of course, the app isn’t just about the workout — you can track your progress over the long-term as well. You’ll be able to see your history and stay up-to-date on your goals. The app also integrates with dozens of other apps such as Garmin and Fitbit.
iFitness Pro (available for Apple devices)
Think of this best-selling app as a personal trainer in your pocket. The app has instructions for hundreds of exercises — including pictures and videos when needed — and boasts an “exercise builder” tool to help you create a custom routine. If you’re not sure how to start, try one of the 25 expert-designed routines to get you going.
The app lets you record your exercises, see your progress on a graph and back up your results to your email account. Best of all, you can share with a spouse or family member — the app can handle multiple users.
Another highly-rated app with similar functions is Fitness Buddy (available for Apple devices).
Lose it! (available for Android and Apple devices)
If you’re looking to juggle both diet and exercise, this app does it all. You can journal what you eat, create meal plans, share recipes and use the barcodes to enter items. If you forget to log a meal, the app will send you a reminder too.
The app also lets you log your exercise information and share exercises with friends through additional features on its website. Another bonus: you don’t have to be connected to the internet to use this app.
Foodscanner ( iPhone)
Looking for an easier way to track foods on your phone than entering them manually? Using the camera in your phone, this apps lets you can scan the bar code on most food products to tabulate your daily calorie count and nutrients. (For foods that don’t have a barcode — such as fresh produce and meats — you can enter the name instead.) You can then enter the number of servings and the app will keep a running total of your day.
If you can’t find a food you want, you can upload the information, UPC code and a picture. The app also syncs with other app offerings from the company Daily Burn — including a workout app to track your exercise routine.
Apps for specific conditions
Whether you want to record your symptoms, keep track of appointments and treatments or keep tabs on your lifestyle, there are now apps available for just about any condition. While there are too many to include in one article, here are a few examples:
– WebMD Pain Coach lets your rate your pain each day so you can spot trends and identify pain triggers.
– Asthmasense allows you to set reminders for medication or peak flow tests and helps you track your symptoms.
– Many glucose monitoring systems work with a diabetes management app, or you can try an app such as bant to record your readings.