Posted by: Sarah Engler
Date: May 3, 2017
When small applications (apps) for mobile devices came out about 15 years ago, they didn’t have nearly as much to offer. Today, health and fitness apps are more sophisticated, and the ability to connect with others through them has increased. We no longer have to feel alone in our fitness routine, on our dietary path or in our efforts to stop bad habits. We can simply pick up our Smartphone or look at our Smartwatch to get information, track our efforts and communicate with like-minded “friends.”
Working hand-in-hand with fitness tracking tools and social media, most apps let users share their activities so others can see a workout has been finished or a goal accomplished. They also let friends track the user during the workout or, for example, when participating in a big race. These notices often come up on smart phone feeds.
Publicly sharing these moments has benefits, especially for people who are just starting a routine and are trying to change behaviors. Psychologists note that people often continue to exercise, for example, when they feel it is approved by others who matter to them or who they’re close to. Even simple feedback such as a “like” can be motivating.
Using apps and sharing news is a great way to involve yourself and get encouragement for your health routine. So where do you start? There are literally thousands of apps on the market. It’s a good idea to look at an app’s features first and choose one or two based on personal goals. The following are a few of the most popular and useful features:
Just like a personal trainer. Some apps act like a personal digital trainer that can tailor workouts for each individual. They provide video guides showing the right way to perform an exercise, and offer the option to change intensity.
Exercise on your schedule. Apps are available for short, focused workouts that can be done in less than 10 minutes. They provide science-based routines with up to about 1,000 variations, and have the ability to understand a person’s fitness level, adjusting accordingly.
Ramp up your bike ride. Cycling fitness apps can connect right to a bike, offering maps, interval routines, lap riding, and training paths for individual abilities. They also let users record workouts, see statistics, and review a summary of progress.
Track your runs. Running apps can plan runs using a GPS, matching a person’s goals and offering audio alerts so he or she can get instant encouragement from friends. There are also apps for a first 5k. These provide training plans that don’t push, and integrate with music apps for motivation.
Stop and breathe. These apps bring the ability to do meditation at one’s own pace, anytime, anywhere. Some work through training courses, while others work on the spur of the moment: If in a stressful situation, the user can access exercises and meditations to keep centered and calm. The apps also track progress daily or weekly.
Music to your ears. A number of apps bring users the music of mindfulness through melodies and nature sounds, customized soundtracks, and sleeping paths that can bring on a snooze.
Think before you eat. Mindful eating apps take users through a series of decisions to make mindful choices. They help time bites, encourage thinking about hunger and fullness levels, and provide steps toward eating slower.
Night, night. Sleep apps include those with guided meditations, background noise, and rain, ocean and other relaxing nature sounds. There’s also an app alarm clock that analyzes a person’s sleep and wakes them up during lightest sleep phase.
What are you eating? There are apps now that track food intake and scan product barcodes to see a personalized nutrition grade. This grade enables an understanding of why one food item is a healthier choice for someone than another.
Going out for dinner. Other apps help determine healthy options on a restaurant menu and make alternative suggestions, so the user can avoid filling up on empty calories. They also help scope out restaurants in a particular area that feature healthier dishes, those in a certain calorie range, or that meet dietary restrictions.
At the grocery store. No more confusion in the grocery aisles. Now shoppers can scan the items they’d normally buy and get a list of healthy alternatives. The app incorporates specific goals — such as lowering cholesterol — while helping avoid allergens like gluten and lactose if these are a concern.
Like the idea of personalized help for your wellness goals? A health coach is an excellent resource for learning effective and efficient ways to enhance the path to health and wellness. Coaches at Populytics/BeneFIT Corporate Wellness are certified and follow evidence-based guidelines. To learn more, contact us here.
The information presented is for your general knowledge and does not replace the advice of your health care provider. All medical inquiries regarding your health should be presented to your health care provider.