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.
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 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
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