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7 Free Apps To Benefit Your Health

We all have dozens of apps on our smartphones, but how many of them are improving our physical health?

Facebook probably isn’t going to help you there. Neither are Viber or Whatsapp or Candy Crush Saga. But these health apps could be just what you need to keep track of different aspects of your fitness, such as your heart rate, your calorie intake or the quality of your sleep.

Keep in mind this is just a slight selection of what’s available, and some apps are tailored to perform better on Android or iPhone operating systems.

1. Lose it! (available for Android and Apple devices)

Lose it! is a one-stop shop, encompassing both diet and exercise. To use it, you record what you eat, create meal plans and share recipes. If you forget to log a meal, the app will send you a reminder, requesting to know what you ate.

It does the same for exercise, allowing you to share exercises with your friends and family through its website’s additional features. Also making it easy to use is the fact you don’t have to be connected to the web to use it.

2. iFitness Pro (available for Apple devices)

Think of this best-selling app as a personal trainer in your pocket. The app has instructions for hundreds of exercises — including pictures and videos when needed — and boasts an “exercise builder” tool to help you create a custom routine. If you’re not sure how to start, try one of the 25 expert-designed routines to get you going.

The app lets you record your exercises, see your progress on a graph and back up your results to your email account. Best of all, you can share with a spouse or family member — the app can handle multiple users.

Another highly-rated app with similar functions is Fitness Buddy (available for Apple devices).

3. Instant Heart Rate (available for Android and Apple devices)

Forget placing your fingers on a pulse point and counting! You may not be able to see it, but the light shining through your fingers changes as blood vessels expand and contract with every heartbeat. When you cover your device’s camera with your finger, the app turns these subtle changes into information you can see on screen — rather like a heart monitor you’d see in a clinic.

If you’re using an older device, be aware that you’ll need to stay still and have enough ambient light. The app works best with newer devices.

4. MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker (available for Blackberry, Android, Windows and Apple devices)

The principle behind this app is simple: track what you eat and how much you eat to stay within calorie intake recommendations — and ultimately lose weight. Rather than carrying around a notebook and a pen, simply enter your food choices into your mobile device. The app boasts the largest database of foods and monitors other indicators like fat, protein and sugars. It even calculates numbers for your homemade recipes.

As with other apps, you can track your progress, set customized goals and connect with family and friends for extra motivation. The app syncs with the website —www.myfitnesspal.com — for even more community-based features and reporting.

5. WebMD (free, available for Android and Apple devices)

WebMD is designed by medical experts, with popular features including a Symptom Checker, a database of drugs and treatments, a pill identification tool and information on various conditions. In fact, the website ranks quite highly on Google, so you’ve probably come across it while scrolling the internet.

The app’s First Aid Essentials guide is available offline, which is handy, especially if you’re camping or generally away from civilisation.

The only thing to keep in mind with this one is that it’s American, meaning drug names and spellings may differ.

 

6. Sleep Cycle alarm clock (available for Apple devices)

What if your alarm clock could monitor your sleep cycles and avoid waking you out of a deep sleep? Your device’s accelerometers — technology which measures movement and gravity — can make getting up a little more pleasant. Place your device on the corner of your bed and the accelerometer tracks your movements to determine what sleep cycle you’re in. Wake up during the lightest sleep cycle to your choice of alarm sounds or music from your collection.

Even if you don’t use the alarm, the app registers your sleep quality throughout the night and lets you incorporate notes about things that may affect your rest — such as drinking coffee or extra stress at work. You can monitor your sleep over a long period of time and download the data to a spreadsheet for further analysis.

7. The MedAdvisor app  (free, available for Android and Apple devices)

This app was developed by Josh Swinnerton, whose mum suffers from Parkinson’s Disease as well as a number of other conditions. The idea for MedAdvisor came about as he watched her struggle to remember to take her medications, and juggle refilling scripts and seeing the doctor for new scripts.

The app has a few handy features including reminders to take medicines or see a doctor for a refill, Tap-to-Refill (so your prescription is waiting at the pharmacy) and Snap-and-Send, which allows users to send a photo of their script directly to the pharmacy. The app is linked to a quarter of all Australian pharmacies.

With older Australians receiving twice the number of prescriptions per GP encounter than people aged under 25, this is one app that has your time in mind.

 

Do you use an app that you’ve found to be beneficial to your health? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.