HEALTH APPS FOR THE NEW YEAR

By Lisa Huang, MLS, MS, Health Sciences Librarian
Photo by John Fingas (http://bit.ly/1fb9G5f)

Most of us make New Year’s resolutions with good intentions.

How long those resolutions last are another matter. There are no magic solutions, but there are ways to help us keep our resolutions right at our fingertips.

Our smartphones can do a lot more than “Angry Birds” or “Words with Friends.” Smartphone apps can offer assistance in our resolutions to eat healthier, get more exercise, quit smoking or be more organized. A sampling of recommended health apps is provided below:

My Fitness Pal (free, Apple, Android and Windows)

My Fitness Pal was rated best app and website for losing weight by 9,000 readers in the January 2013 issue of “Consumer Reports,” beating out commercial diet plans such as Weight Watchers.  It offers a personalized diet/exercise plan and serves as a food and exercise diary. It also contains nutrition information for more than two million food items, including restaurant foods.  Socialization and support features are available through groups, message boards or signing up friends.

Other similar apps: Lose ItCalorie Counter by Fat SecretNoom Weight LossCalories Pro.

Fast Food Calorie Counter ($1, Apple)

For those who are more realistic or have a hankering for fast food on their eating plans, Fast Food Calorie Counter offers nutrition information from fast food restaurants and casual dining chains.

Other similar apps: Fast Food Calorie Lookup (free, Android), Restaurant Weight Loss ($3, Android; free lite version), and Restaurant Nutrition

phone

Fooducate (free, Apple and Android)

Fooducate allows users to scan a product’s bar code, decode nutrition information and get suggestions for a healthier alternative based on calories, sugar content and percentage of additives. The $4 version of the app is advertising free.   For those with peanut, wheat or gluten allergies, Fooducate offers the Allergy & Gluten Free Scanner for $5.

If your goal is to get off the couch, start with the following apps:

Starting Easy:  5K Runner (free, Apple and Android)

The Couch to 5K (C25K) app prepares you for running a 5K in an eight-week period.  It offers personalized walking/running plans with stretching exercises, voice prompts and a built in heart-rate meter. C25K also offers advanced levels (e.g. 10K, 21K).  Additional features are available for $2.99.

iFitness ($2, Apple)
It is consistently ranked as one of the top paid exercise apps.  It allows you to track your workout history and provides pre-made exercise routines depending on your goals. It also allows you to monitor your weight, calculate your BMI and track body measurements. Users can email themselves a workout log or use the built in stop watch.  The exercise tab lists more than 300 exercises sorted by body regions and includes more than 100 instructional videos.

Other notable exercise apps:  iTreadmill ($2, Apple), Jillian Michaels App.

Endomondo Sports Tracker (Apple, Android and BlackBerry)

This app is designed as a personal trainer and exercise buddy for cyclists, runners and walkers.  It offers GPS tracking for routes with Google maps integration and records workout history.  Fitness advice from trainers is included.

Daily Yoga (free, Apple and Android)

If you are more interested in obtaining toned sections and flexibility, “Daily Yoga” offers 5-10 minute sequences to target specific body regions (e.g. back or abs) and focuses on meditation, Pilates and/or weight loss.  The app offers music, videos and community support.  It is touted as the world’s most popular yoga app.

Other notable yoga apps for Apple and Android systems: Pocket Yoga, Simply Yoga.

If your goal is to quit smoking, be sure to check out the Quit Now (free, Apple & Android) app.  The Quit Now app offers support for those trying to stop.  It allows you to track your cessation efforts, the amount of money and time you’ve saved and coping strategies.  Badges are given out to encourage cessation longevity.  Support systems are available via groups along with opportunities to brag to friends via Facebook and Twitter.

Other similar apps: SmokeNow ($4, Android), Quitter (free, Apple).

Disclaimer:

The author has no financial or competing interests with entities listed in this article.

Buyers should read the reviews and descriptions before downloading apps. Prices listed for apps may fluctuate.

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