Watch your wellness using apps and activity monitors
You’ve heard about the many ways that our phones and laptops have made us less active. But technology isn’t all bad. In fact, activity trackers and apps can encourage people to get off the couch and get moving.
“A good way to motivate people is for them to physically see how many steps they have taken throughout the day, or how many calories they have burned during exercise,” says Eric Lemkin, a certified personal trainer in Sylvania, Ohio.
Here’s how smart technology can help you make small changes that add up to a big difference in your overall health.
HEALTH & FITNESS APPS
What they can do for you: There’s a slew of apps for your smartphone or tablet that make it easy to log your meals, count your calories, chart your daily physical activity, look up exercises, track your shut-eye, and even scan barcodes to find nutritional information about certain foods.
Who they help the most: Anyone who’s set a goal of making their health a priority will benefit from these apps.
Food and Exercise
1. MyFitnessPal (iOS; Android): Free, with optional Premium upgrade (prices vary)
- MyFitnessPal allows you to track your meals, water intake, and exercise, and helps you stay motivated through community forums (for tips and advice) and personalized progress reports.
2. 8fit Workouts & Meal Planner (iOS; Android): Free, with optional Pro upgrade (prices vary)
- 8fit helps you build workout plans and provides comprehensive nutrition guides and detailed meal plans, all tailored to help you meet your chosen goal.
3. Lifesum (iOS; Android): Free, with optional Premium upgrade (prices vary)
- Lifesum allows you to create a diet plan best suited to your life and goals. This includes a barcode scanner for food recording, a macro tracker to help you balance your daily protein, carb, and fat intake, and a library of recipes to add variety to your diet.
4. Lose It! - Calorie Counter (iOS; Android): Free, with optional Lose It! Premium upgrade ($39.99 yearly)
- Lose It! helps you lose weight through calorie tracking. There’s a barcode scanner and camera feature to track what you’ve eaten, meal calorie targets and recipes to help you plan your meals, and more.
5. Daily Water Tracker Reminder (iOS; Android): Free, with optional Pro upgrade (prices vary)
- Daily Water Tracker helps you set and reach your daily water intake goal with routine reminders.
6. Nike Run Club (iOS; Android): Free
- Nike Run Club encourages you to just run, with coach- and athlete-led, audio-guided, and music-matched runs. They also have challenges you can participate in, plans you can follow to achieve your goals, and motivating features including trophies, leaderboards, and audio cheers from friends.
7. Sworkit Fitness (iOS; Android): Free three-workout trial, then subscription-based (prices vary)
- Sworkit helps you work towards your exercise goals through six-week programs that include a variety of workout types, customizability features, individual assistance from certified personal trainers, and more.
8. Daily Yoga (iOS; Android): Free, with optional Silver Pro upgrade (prices vary)
- Daily Yoga targets your mind and body with a variety of guided classes, workout plans, and coach-led workshops, suited for a wide range of skill levels. Receive inspiration and ideas from the app’s community.
9. Headspace: Meditation & Sleep (iOS; Android): Free 10-lesson Basics course, with optional subscription (prices vary)
- Headspace helps you de-stress and relax with meditation and mindfulness sessions. You can also use the sleep sounds and sleep meditation features to help you fall asleep.
10. Happify (iOS; Android): Free for some tracks, with optional Premium upgrade (prices vary)
- Happify, as the name suggests, works to improve your mood and make you happier, using science-backed activities and games.
11. Calm (iOS; Android): Free, with optional Calm Premium upgrade (prices vary)
- Calm helps you relax through guided meditations. The short sessions are designed to fit your schedule, and the bedtime stories can help lull you to sleep.
12. Sleep Cycle (iOS; Android): Free, with optional Sleep Cycle Premium upgrade ($29.99 yearly)
- Sleep Cycle targets your sleep patterns to help you rest and wake up better. The alarm goes off when you’re in your lightest sleep phase, and your sleep patterns are analyzed to help you learn more about your sleep.
13. Sleep Time (iOS; Android): Free, with optional Sleep Time Premium upgrade (prices vary)
- Sleep Time analyzes your sleep routine to give you a better snooze. Fall asleep to preset app sounds (or white noise), have your heart rate detected upon waking up, review detailed sleep charts analyzing your sleep data, and more.
What they can do for you: As the name implies, these devices measure your daily activity. You wear them, and then they count your daily movements, calculate your calorie burn, display your pace and progress, and store your data so you have a record of everything. Some even monitor your heart rate, track your sleep, automatically recognize the type of activity you’re doing, and gauge your workout intensity. Most have corresponding apps and websites to help you set goals, get exercise advice, and more. For those who don’t need a lot of bells and whistles, wearing a simple pedometer is another way to see how active you were on any given day.
Who they help the most: These gadgets appeal to results-oriented individuals, or anyone who’s interested in gauging things like exercise intensity and energy output.
14. Fitbit (various models, $69.95 to $279.95)
- Fitbit has a variety of models to choose from, ranging in price and available features, to track your exercise, sleep, weight, and more.
15. Garmin vívosmart 4 ($129.99)
- The Garmin vívosmart 4 tracks your exercise sessions, heart rate, stress levels, sleep patterns, blood oxygen levels, and more. It has timers dedicated to different sports, and even connects to select Android and iPhone smartphones for GPS tracking during outdoor walks/runs.
16. Samsung Galaxy Fit ($99.99)
- The Samsung Galaxy Fit tracks your exercise, daily steps, burned calories, and fluid (especially water) consumption. It also monitors your sleep, and alerts you if your heart rate is out of the normal range. Although it’s designed to work most optimally with Galaxy smartphones, it’s also compatible with most Android and iPhone smartphones.
17. Polar A370 ($149.95)
- The Polar A370 tracks your overall daily activity (and reminds you when you’ve been inactive for too long), heart rate, calories burned, and sleep patterns. You can also use it to plan and log your workouts, or follow an in-app training program to reach your running distance goal.
18. Motiv Ring ($199.99)
- The Motiv Ring tracks your fitness, sleep, and heart rate. However, while many wrist-worn activity trackers display your fitness information right there on the tracker’s screen, the ring is smaller and does not have a screen. It stores the information internally and syncs via Bluetooth with the app on your smartphone (includes Android and iPhones), to show you your health data on your phone.