The phone that you’re carrying around in your pocket has more computing power than was available to NASA when the first men were sent to the moon. It can help you keep up with work, take amazing photos at a moment’s notice, and even allow you to talk to someone face-to-face on the opposite side of the planet. While a lot of us are familiar with how phones and new apps can help increase productivity (or hinder it *cough* Angry Birds *cough*), a lot of people don’t realize that there are ways to use your phone to improve your health in 5 key areas.
If you haven’t been active in a while, figuring out which exercises to do and how to progress can be an intimidating task. Luckily, there are a ton of apps available to help you get started. You can find apps to get started weightlifting, yoga, or even marathon training. If you’re already active, finding a new exercise program via an app can be a great method to keep your workouts exciting and challenge your body in new ways. Performing new exercises not only keeps your workouts fresh, but can be a great way to avoid an overuse injury.
Anyone who is serious about fitness knows the importance of tracking your progress. It’s integral to making sure that your programming is effective and that you’re pushing yourself to improve week after week. Lugging a journal and pen around the gym can be cumbersome, but using an app on your phone (there are hundreds to choose from) is much more convenient. One of my favorite tracking apps is Fitocracy. With Fitocracy, you get a comprehensive workout log that awards you points for your workout. Your points allow you to level up like a video game and compete against friends or others online with similar interests. This “gameification” of your workout will provide you with the inspiration to push a little harder and show up a rival.
Now that you’re able to find an effective exercise program and track your progress, it’s time to tackle your diet. No matter which diet you follow, it can sometimes be difficult to come up with healthy meal ideas that are fresh and exciting. Luckily, an app like Epicurious can keep your menus fresh with new recipes catered to the way you want to eat, while other apps like Restaurant Nutrition give you ideas on good food choices while on the go. In addition to keeping your food exciting, apps are a great way to track your nutritional intake to see how it compares to your individual needs. Keeping an accurate food log via an app like MyFitnessPal is convenient and can help identify potential problem areas such as inadequate vitamins or protein intake or excessive salt consumption.
Lack of sleep is linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and an increased risk of injury, not to mention low energy levels and general grumpiness. Using your phone to track your sleep patterns can be a great way to learn about how much quality sleep you get and if it’s enough to meet your needs. I’ve used an app called Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock in the past that monitors your movement during sleep to estimate how much time is spent in restorative deep sleep as opposed to lighter sleep. This app also has a feature that will set off your alarm within a specified time frame when your sleep is at its lightest, meaning you wake up refreshed and not groggy.
Worrying about deadlines, finances, and keeping up with social engagements is enough to keep anyone’s mind constantly racing. Chronic stress is linked to a plethora of health maladies ranging from metabolism issues to heart disease. Using your phone to help keep track of your obligations with to-do list apps like Evernote can help take a load off of your mind, helping to keep your cortisol levels (the stress hormone) in check. Also, setting reminders well in advance of deadlines is a great way to stay ahead of projects, making you less likely to procrastinate (a major cause of stress).
I challenge you to make your phone work for your health before the year’s end. It’s the perfect time to get into the habit of utilizing some health-friendly apps before the onslaught of holiday distractions take hold. If you have any apps that you’ve found to be helpful in managing your health, be sure to leave a tip in the comments below!