Run from zombies, lose weight. There's an app for that -
Livewell logo
  Get the Mobile App

Run from zombies, lose weight. There's an app for that

Short of going to the gym for you, smartphones can do just about anything, even when it comes to your health.

Wonder how far you're running when you choose a trail over a treadmill? Wish you didn't keep forgetting to take that antibiotic? Curious if that granola bar is actually good for you?

There's an app for that, that and that. There's even an app for runners who are into zombies.

The best smartphone apps are based on simple ideas and are easy to use, according to Don Schoen, head of the health and wellness technology company BettrLife in Des Moines. People download several apps, Schoen said, but the ones that get regular use require relatively little work and offer big rewards, like the calorie counter that helped you drop the last five pounds.

Vanessa Urbach, 25, downloaded MyFitnessPal to her smartphone more than a year ago. She has lost 27 pounds since, thanks to the app, which tracks her calories and exercise.

“When you see three Oreos is 180 calories, you're like, 'Holy moly!' I would usually eat four servings,” she said. “And that's a meal's worth of calories.”

“It really hit me that I needed to adjust my diet.”

Urbach, of Omaha, said most foods are already in the database so “you don't even really have to try that hard because it's already done for you.”

Schoen says the future of smartphone technology is applications that anticipate the user's needs: an app that sends you a grocery list based on your digital food diary, for example.

Until then, check out this list of eight wellness apps that can help you achieve your health goals — or just help you get to bed on time. Each app listed received between four and five stars from users on iTunes and Google Play.


MapMyRun uses your phone's GPS capability to record your workout details, including the route, distance, duration, pace, elevation and calories burned. You can post your workouts to Facebook and Twitter or share them with friends who also use the app. MapMyWalk and MapMyRide also available.


MyFitnessPal is a calorie counter that also measures fat, protein, carbs, sugar and more. The app boasts more than 2 million foods. You set a caloric goal, then log what you eat to stay on track. You can enter recipes of homemade dishes or scan the barcodes of food items if you can't find your meal in the database. MyFitnessPal remembers foods, too, so it's easy to add what you eat most often. You can also connect with friends if you want an accountability system and log your workouts.


Fooducate is a grocery store guide. Scan the barcode of any item in the store, and the app will grade it based on its nutrition facts and ingredient list. The app lists healthier alternatives, too, and shares fun facts like “'Natural' is an unregulated term.”


NatureSpace turns your smartphone into a sound machine. Turn on the app when you go to bed, and it will lull you to dreamland with your choice of relaxing nature sounds, like a babbling brook or songbirds. It loops seamlessly while you sleep. Use the app's timer setting or make sure your phone is on the charger so it doesn't die overnight. The app is free, but there are optional “in-app” purchases.

Zombies, Run!

Zombies, Run! combines interval training and the end of the world. Press play on your smartphone while jogging, and audio prompts tell the story of a zombie apocalypse — one you've survived. The narrator tells you when the mindless monsters are close, urging you to pick up your pace in order to escape. The app tracks how many calories you burned, how many zombies you evaded and how fast you ran when they were on your tail. The app offers more than 30 “missions.” It works outdoors and on a treadmill. Cost: $3.99

GAIN Fitness

GAIN Fitness is a personal training app that creates customized workouts based on your goal, schedule and what equipment you want to use. It pulls from more than 350 strength-training exercises, plyometrics and yoga poses.

Emergency First Aid

The American Red Cross app walks users through first-aid scenarios step-by-step. It includes videos and interactive quizzes so you know what to do in emergency situations, covering everything from asthma attacks to broken bones to severe weather safety tips. You can also call 911 from the app at any time.


Pillboxie is an app designed to help you remember to take your medications. You can schedule reminders that will work even when your phone is asleep. You can track usage history, too, which might come in handy at your next doctor's appointment. The app is password-protected. Cost: $0.99

Contact the writer:

Copyright ©2014 Omaha World-Herald®. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, displayed or redistributed for any purpose without permission from the Omaha World-Herald.

You may also like

An Omaha World-Herald digital product


Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Get weekly health tips via our newsletter.