Everyday technology can be used to help us improve our personal health.
Yes, there’s an app for that. Several apps, actually.
And it can be overwhelming to figure out which ones are worthwhile to use.
I haven’t tried them all, but I do have several that work for me. The list below includes only ones that I use daily or very frequently to help me specify my goals and then track my progress.
The Apps I Use Every Day
Fitbit – I wear a Fitbit tracker daily and use it primarily to monitor my steps and my sleep. I’ve used Fitbit products for several years. This summer, I upgraded to the Blaze. I wanted more detail on my quality and quantity of sleep. I also wanted to know how many steps I take each day. And, the tracker buzzes to remind me to get up and move every hour if I’ve been sitting a lot, doing things like (!) writing a 31-step blog series.
Quite frankly I’m embarrassed to show you how much (or little) I’ve slept this week. I’ve detailed my sleep issues in previous articles here, particularly one called “How to Wreck Your Life in 5 Hours or Less.” I still struggle to get an average of 7 hours per night. So here’s a glimpse of how my tracker details my sleep habits. You’ll notice I still have plenty of room for improvement.
I wear the tracker and sync it with the Fitbit app so that I can monitor reality. In my mind I could say, “Oh, I’m getting enough sleep.” My tracker, via the app on my smartphone, says otherwise.
MyFitnessPal – Off and on since November 2013, but pretty regularly for the past year, I’ve used this app to record my weight, track my food and calories, and pay attention to my balance of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. I can see my progress. I’ve lost 18 pounds during that time and kept it off, especially in the past year. (Dietary changes and tracking have led to the weight loss and consistency.)
Tracking my food intake has been crucial to my health goals. I highly recommend this app (I still use the free version) and logging your food daily. The app even allows you to scan a food by bar code and will input the calories, fats and other nutrients for you. If you struggle with drinking enough water, you even can log that. Even if you want to change nothing about what you eat, tracking via this app is eye-opening.
The Apps I Use Frequently
MapMyWalk/MapMyRun/MapMyRide – Depending on how you want to move – walking, running, or cycling – use one of these apps to track your mileage, plan a route, and connect with friends. If you have a step tracker with its own app (such as Fitbit) you may not need this app too. But I still use it because it’s the one I started with in 2010 when I was chased by lightning and began running. It has many more functions than I personally use and can be synced with other devices and apps such as MyFitnessPal.
Mindbody – I use this app to help me find fitness classes near me, such as yoga or Pilates. I input my favorite studios and then can check their schedules and book classes right from the app. (A friend had to postpone our coffee chat tomorrow? Hmmm, wonder if there’s a yoga class I can attend at that time?)
Insight Timer – Since enrolling in the health coach training program at Duke Integrative Medicine, which has mindfulness as a core value, I’ve been focusing on my own meditation practices. This app features guided meditations and a simple timer for your own practice. I’ve tried and liked several meditation apps, but this one I’ve used most consistently.
It’s your turn. What apps do you use to focus on your health? Send me a note. I’d love to hear from you!
Welcome! I’m Amy, an integrative health coach, offering grace and space for a healthier you. This article is Step 6 in the “31 Steps to a Healthier You” series. You can access all posts in the series here. And I hope you’ll want to stick around for a while. If so, please subscribe at this link so you’ll get updates.