It still astounds me that we can track how many steps we walk in a day, calories burned, find the best workout deals in town, and meditate all by using our phones. As a society, I think we (guilty here) are on our phones way too much. In reality, many of us are wasting so many hours texting, emailing, perusing Facebook, posting on Instagram, or surfing the web. While staying connected is essential, it’s so refreshing to disconnect. I do, however, think that health and fitness apps, for the most part, are a good use of our time and phones. I’ve had numerous patients tell me about apps they are using to stay on track. Mobile health is on the rise!
Here are a few of my go-to health and fitness apps for 2016:
The MINDBODY app is very user-friendly, and you can download it for free. It allows you to instantly book a massage, group fitness class, facial and so much more. When you open the app, it takes into account where you are and gives options of places around you that use MINDBODY as a way to book appointments. Love the filters on this app—so if you feel like taking a yoga class, you can narrow your search down to just ‘yoga.’ It also lets you know what deals are near you, sync the app to your FitBit, and view your upcoming schedule. The only negative is that it is only able to search for places that use MINDBODY, but more and more businesses are using it.
MyFitnessPal is definitely one of the most popular health apps. If it is working for you, keep using it! If you want to try something different, take a look at Noom Coach. This weight loss coaching app is designed to help you develop healthy lifestyle choices. The food and exercise logs are very easy to use, and you can opt to get daily health coaching points. You also receive reminders if you forget to log your meals, which can definitely help when having a hectic day. There is an option to do weekly weigh-ins, and the app will keep track of your progress. Oh, did I mention that it’s free to download, but you can upgrade to “Pro” if you want to be able to join a group based on your goals. The one con, in my opinion, is the Traffic Light Food System—where foods are grouped into 3 categories based on their calorie density. Green foods are healthy. Yellow foods should be eaten in moderation, and red foods should be eaten rarely or not at all. This means that a snack of almond butter and a banana could be deemed as yellow, when, in fact, it’s a great snack. I always have reason for pause when the quality of the calories are not taken into consideration. This is not the app for someone who easily feels defeated OR like they have failed when they cannot reach a goal.
If you are struggling to get to a yoga studio, a beginner, nervous to go to a studio or travel a lot, the Daily Yoga app is for you! The basic app is free, but there is an option to upgrade if you want more (head’s up: there is a 12-Day Beginner Tour, which is great)! It has featured sequences that focus on yoga skills, weight loss, health and therapy and specific body parts like the back. Some of the videos are sequences while others focus on one posture at a time. Overall, great app!
Calm is one of my favorite apps. It is, well, calming because it is easy to use, and you can choose from a variety of beautiful sceneries. It is an app meant to help you relax through either guided or timed meditations. Guided sessions last anywhere from 2 to 30 minutes. You choose! It even keeps track of your total sessions, time you have spent meditating and your longest streak. There are some great programs to choose from to get you started like 7 Days of Calm. It has the option to set a daily alarm to remind you to stop what you are doing and meditate. If meditation is not already a part of your day, start small and see what works for you. I prefer the guided meditations to help with focus. The only con is that not all of the content is free.