Overuse of digital handheld devices is emerging as a contributing factor in an array of health issues. From cervicogenic headaches to anger and anxiety, I think the full story of the consequences is yet to be revealed. This article recently published in the New York Times gives us some insight. Despite the health concerns, we do have the ability to use smart devices to improve our health too, as long as we are intentional and mindful with our use. I wouldn’t call myself particularly tech savvy (more of a tech wanna-be), but there are some apps I’ve used for years that have had a positive impact on my health. I recommend these to my patients too, depending on their needs (and like everything I mention or recommend on this site, I receive zilcho kickback or commission).
Here they are by category:
1. Food Tracking. I must admit, I will rarely track my own food intake. But I think it can be a handy practice if you’re starting a new eating strategy or if you want to dive deeper into losing some body fat or gaining muscle. Here are the main three I’ll suggest:
- Easy Diet Diary by Xyris Software (Australia) Pty Ltd
Australian database by the same company responsible for FoodWorks, a nutrition database used for many years by Dietitians.
- MyFitnessPal by MyFitnessPal.com
- Cronometer by Cronometer Software Inc. This one is good because it lists vitamins, minerals (including electrolytes) in depth. Handy for those following a low processed foods diet to ensure they are consuming enough. For example, often times people consuming a diet low in refined carbohydrate will need to add extra salt (sodium). This app can help track that along with other important electrolytes like potassium and magnesium.
2. Fasting. Yes, believe it or not an App exists for fasting and it’s actually pretty good! Check it out: Zero – Fasting Tracker by Big Sky Health
3. Exercise. Running is my exercise of choice so I have a personal preference and better knowledge about running apps. Running (and cycling) obviously are activities that lend themselves well to tracking the distance covered, as well as fancier metrics like cadence and heart rate. I’m aware of the more popular ones like Nike Run Club, Strava, ASICS My Run and Runkeeper- and they’re all pretty good. However, I regularly use iSmoothRun by Lake Horizon Ltd
It’s not the prettiest on the eye, but it has some impressive features. You can custom your run workouts to pretty much however you want, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll need YouTube instruction on how to use some of these higher level features. You can then export your running data into places like DropBox, Training Peaks or Runkeeper.
There are probably some good weights apps. This one looks good, but I haven’t explored it entirely as I tend to do resistance training a bit more ‘freestyle’ Full Fitness : Exercise Workout Trainer by Mehrdad Mehrain
– For swimming, MySwimPro looks pretty good and has a good blog with tips, but I haven’t done serious swimming for years so I can’t say if it’s good in practice. MySwimPro by MySwimPro, Inc.
4. Meditation. There’s a ton of good meditation apps out there, both free and paid so we really are spoilt for choice here. Here are my faves:
- Waking Up is what I’m subscribed to at the moment. There’s no background music, and it’s all Sam Harris (meaning unlike other apps, you need to be happy to listen to his voice and his voice alone), but I’m liking it. He really does talk about some abstract concepts though, which I personally find it hard to get my head around. Nevertheless, I have found benefit using this with some degree of consistency (a few times per week).
- Calm is another really good one with plenty of variety, including some kid-focussed meditations that I’ve used to help the little ones go to sleep 😴. Gotta love the Cinderella story.
- Headspace is meant to be really good but as I’ve had subscriptions to the other two, I haven’t explored it in depth.
Well, there you have it! Have I missed any good ones? Let me know on Twitter, Facebook or Insta 😃