5 Smartphone Apps to Help You Eat Better and Exercise More
By Megy Karydes
In this issue, we continue our look into the personal technology that is changing the ways we manage our health.
We all know the drill to becoming healthier overall: Eat better and exercise more. Easier said than done when the biggest hurdle is getting started or staying motivated. Armed with the right health and fitness apps, it’s possible that getting healthier can be fun. From popular apps and devices like Fitbit to programs that encourage friendly competition like Strava, you’ll have fewer excuses not to get in the best shape of your life.
1. Fitbit Flex
Those who want to see a broader overview of their health history might find the Fitbit Flex attractive both in design and analytics. The sleek band collects data through the app, which it then wirelessly syncs to the Fitbit Web Dashboard. It checks progress in real time and allows you to view steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned and time spent sleeping. Similar to My Fitness Pal (see last issue), it also allows you to log food and water consumption to keep body-weight goals in check. If you want to engage others in your progress and to help motivate you, you can connect with friends who also use this app.
Available for: iPhone, iPad, iPad Touch with iOS 6 or later; Android
Cost: App is free but the Fitbit Flex Wristband is $99.95
2. GAIN Fitness Cross Trainer
For people who want a personal trainer but can’t afford it nor have the time to see one, GAIN Fitness Cross Trainer will build a custom fitness plan based on your fitness goals and preferences through its network of professional trainers and athletes. If a recommended move is unfamiliar, you can watch a video of the trainer performing the exercise. Workouts range from yoga and Pilates to Workout of the Day.
Crossfit-type programs. The GAIN Plan is a calendar that will keep you focused and accountable, pushing out reminders; and if you like the camaraderie of working out with a team, you can connect with Workout Buddies.
Available for: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch with iOS 5 or later
Would you push yourself to go to the gym if it meant it might cost you if you didn’t? GymPact was created based on the behavioral economics principle that people are more motivated when there is a chance of losing money than earning money. This app financially rewards you when you go to the gym but penalizes you when you miss a workout. Users check in at their gym using the GymPact app to keep the money they put up, while those who skip out on their workouts pony up cash. The app features integration with RunKeeper (another great app) and at-home workout options so, really, there are just zero excuses for not working out.
Available for: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 5 and later; Android
Need to avoid certain ingredients like sugar or gluten? ShopWell’s weight in gold is that it helps you eat healthier by scanning food-label bar codes and learning whether the food item matches your dietary needs. The scoring system rates foods from 0–100, and based on your profile and what you’re aiming to achieve (lose weight, manage high blood pressure?), its algorithm will analyze the items’ nutrients and ingredients and tell you the score. It can also recommend alternative options so that you can make decisions in real time.
Available for: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 4.3 or later
For those with a competitive streak, Strava makes it easy to track progress when biking or running. Users can upload data from their iPhone, Android or GPS device and compare their workouts to previous runs, rides or to other users. Those who travel will like the feature that helps you find the most popular route in a new location.
Available for: iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 5.0 or later; Android