Smartphone apps aren’t just for communication and entertainment; they can make you healthier as well. Medical apps and health apps can motivate lifestyle changes, give wellness tips and help smartphone users track smoking cessation, fitness goals, weight loss, sleep problems, blood sugar fluctuations and almost anything else your body or mind desires. Some apps help patients manage cancer treatment while others tackle alcohol abstinence and stress relief. Health apps are becoming so in-demand that medical school students and researchers from Harvard University to the University of Washington are creating apps to distribute to the public.
For instance, just this fall a group of University of Washington researchers created SpiroSmart , headed soon to market, which lets phone users measure how well their lungs are functioning. One SpiroSmart app researcher, Shwetak Patel, said in a university news release that remarkably no other equipment is needed to test lung health because the team discovered “how to do it with the microphone that’s already there” on the phone.
For app enthusiasts ready to try health apps, the programs won’t cost much; a wide variety of apps are offered free, or at least for under $5 on Android, iPhone and other systems.
Instead of browsing endlessly for the best ones, here’s a sampling of five of the best.
Want to renew your commitment to healthy eating and keep tabs on your calories, sodium, protein, carbs and vitamin levels? Put away the nutrition booklets and the online nutrition charts. The Fooducate app makes tracking and finding out food nutrients easy by utilizing the bar code that’s on all grocery items. All you do is wave the smartphone over the produce and the app can scan the barcode and list all the nutritional information. How easy is that? This also helps people avoiding controversial ingredients, such as high fructose corn syrup, MSG, hydrogenated oils and other unnatural additives.
Available for [button link=”https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fooducate.nutritionapp&hl=en” size=”big” target=”self”]Android[/button] and [button link=”https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fooducate-healthy-food-diet/id398436747?mt=8″ size=”big” target=”self”]iOS[/button]
iTreadmill Ultra Pedometer with PocketStep
The iTreadmill improves on common drugstore pedometers. Put your phone in your pocket and this app will detect your footfalls throughout the day, estimating your stride length and adding up how far you’ve walked by the end of the day (or by the end of a designated time frame.) Users rave that it is extremely accurate and available for just $0.99. A bonus? You can also select music to play through the phone while you walk — no need to bring an MP3 player.
Available for [button link=”https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/itreadmill-pedometer-ultra/id313242014?mt=8″ size=”big” target=”self”]iOS[/button]
SleepCycle Alarm Clock App
Sleeping problems are major medical issues that many workaholics, overscheduled students or insomniacs ignore. Most people already forgo the recommended eight hours, but, on top of that, many rely on disruptive and jarring alarm clocks to keep their already reduced cycles on a schedule. These shrill and disturbing alarms set users up to start the day off in a negative mood, often engendering panic and a racing pulse that can be dangerous. The SleepCycle Alarm Clock app aims to wake you up gently, at the best time for your individual sleep patterns while using your favorite tunes. The app automatically programs itself if you keep your phone on your mattress; it will detect your slumber patterns and determine the gentlest time to awaken you so that your wake up slowly, calmly and refreshed.
Pocket First Aid app
Most people learned the Heimlich maneuver, tips for treating broken bones and how to handle people with open wounds, bleeding or concussions in high school health classes or in quick, on-the-job workshops. However, in a crisis who really remembers? The Pocket First Aid app makes remembering crisis strategies easy. The app has detailed instructions for every traumatic scenario and will walk users through them step by step via text, audio and even a few video instructions, such as those for handling CPR or using a defibrillator on a heart attack victim.
Stress Free with Deepak Chopra
If kids, work and meetings are keeping you frustrated all day, turn to the Stress Free app for solutions. It’s developed in conjunction with Deepak Chopra, yes, the spiritual maestro once hailed by Oprah. Chopra’s app gives handy relaxation techniques you can do wherever you are, as well as deep breathing tips to calm you and suggested yoga exercises with tutorials. What’s more, since the app costs (just $2), users also get to email Chopra directly; if you’re lucky, you’ll get a reply.
The range of health apps is limitless, with more being created regularly. Apps such as Glucose Buddy, which helps diabetics, keep track of their sugar levels and when they should eat or test their glucose, and Heartwise, which can average your daily blood pressure, are making staying healthy more convenient, engaging and even fun.