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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Using Apps to Improve Your Health

There are lots of little things that you can do to improve your and your family’s health. You can make sure to eat a nutritious and natural diet. You can get more exercise. You know all of the basics already.

The problem for most people who want to get healthy isn’t a lack of knowledge. It’s getting into the habit of putting that knowledge into practice.

For some weird reason we believe that the only way to really get healthy is to force ourselves into new habits organically and through sheer force of will. Why we put so much pressure on ourselves to get healthy independently is a mystery--especially since there is so much help out there for people who seek it. There are nutritionists, personal trainers, life coaches and even apps that will help you set up and maintain a healthier lifestyle. Yes. They do, as cliche as it sounds, make an app for that. Here are some of the best:

TruClinic

Featured in the ADP AdvancedMD marketplace, TruClinic is an app that connects you to your doctors, face-to-face and in real time via your mobile device. Billed as a way to “bring back the house call,” TruClinic is a great way to see your doctor without having to actually take the time to schedule, show up and then be kept waiting for what might turn out to be a five minute appointment for something very minor. It’s also a great way to get initial diagnoses when you notice that something about your health has gotten out of whack.

FitBit

It’s so commonplace now that we debated whether or not to put it on this list. It seems like everybody has a FitBit now and for good reason: it works and it works well. In addition to tracking your steps, the FitBit can also track your sleeping patterns, your nutrition, your weight, and your progress in these areas. What makes FitBit superior to many of the other apps out there is that it is cross-app compatible. The wristband and pedometer can be synced with other apps like Lose It, Spark People, Map My Run, and BeeMinder. It’s a many trick pony and one that you want in your arsenal.

My Fitness Pal

Rated as one of PC Mag’s top 25 Fitness Apps, My Fitness Pal is great because it doesn’t just track calories consumed and burned, it tracks the different kinds of calories consumed and burned. You can log specific recipes as well as general foods. In addition to the food you take in, it provides you with a variety of weight loss plans and a pedometer to help you take care of your overall health.

Spotify

Yes, Spotify is a music app. Why, then, is it on this list? Because the Spotify app can be used to build playlists built on your workout pace. For example, it will track your steps as you run an then build a playlist that focuses on songs that match your beat. It might not necessarily help you get healthier but it’s still pretty cool--especially if you depend on music to make your workout easier to deal with.

Zombies Run/The Walk

These are separate apps: Zombies Run and The Walk, respectively. They’re paired up here because they offer the same basic experience. Zombies Run is for runners: you listen to a story about zombies through your earbuds and you have to keep running to keep them from catching you (and to complete a variety of missions). For people who hate running, The Walk offers the same basic experience except you walk instead of run.

Gorilla Workout

Unlike a lot of the other fitness apps out there, this app doesn’t assume that you have already reached any specific level of fitness. It assumes you’re starting from the point of not even being able to do a single pushup. Do each daily workout and, feel your body actually get stronger and healthier as you progress. If the feelings aren’t enough to keep you going, you can also watch the monkey on your screen go from being a baby monkey to a fully grown gorilla by the time you’ve finished all the workouts.

First Aid

There is more to health than simply exercises and counting calories. First Aid, an app offered by the American Red Cross and has information about what to do in the event of a lot of different accidents and injuries. The app features videos as well as photos, diagrams and written instructions for a wide variety of injuries and accident situations.

Do you have a favorite app that helps you track, monitor and improve your health, let us know in the comments!

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.

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