The use of technology in healthcare, fitness, and nutrition is constantly growing and becoming more useful to all users – patients, medical workers, and the average person concerned with their health. This fact is evidenced partially by the hundreds of fitness apps on the market, which can provide virtual logs of a patient’s nutrition, exercise habits, and day-to-day movements.
Of course, this is great for doctors looking to better understand a specific patient’s lifestyle, but it’s also a huge advantage for anyone looking to better monitor their own health. As healthitjobs.com’s, Tim Cannon explains, “The use of technology in healthcare, fitness and nutrition is allowing people to take control of their own health by monitoring, analyzing and providing real-time feedback to an individual’s well being.”
Gaining access to these tools is as easy as pressing download from your phone’s app store, and many are even free. Below is a quick summary of some of the best apps currently available:
MyFitnessPal has consistently been one of the top rated diet-tracking apps on the market. This app allows you to keep track of the foods you eat, the amount of water you consume, and the exercise you complete on a daily basis. Major benefits from this app are its comprehensive search function (pulling from the largest database of any fitness app out there), its ability to connect to fitness trackers like Fitbit or Jawbone, and a strong community of users, but at its core, the app is successful because of its simplicity.
USA Today’s Jefferson Graham even gave his preference to this calorie counting app saying, “I have to give the nod to MyFitnessPal, and the reason is the restaurant database… For instance, Talking Tech fans know my favorite restaurant is Chipotle. When I wanted to add “Burrito Bowl” from Chipotle into MyFitnessPal it was in the database — but nowhere to be found on [MyFitnessPal main competitor] Lose It.”
Fitness Buddy functions as a personal trainer right on your smartphone. It pulls from a database of over 1700 different exercises, and tailors a workout based upon your personal fitness goals and preferences. The app then provides a picture and written instructions on how to complete each exercise, as well as keeps track of weight and other body metrics and allows for you to create plans on your own.
Users enjoy the app for its extreme personalization – with in little time, Fitness Buddy will have an accurate understanding of your fitness level and your needed areas of improvement.
Superfoods is an excellent educational app which covers different types of diets and nutritional information. A major benefit to this app is that it does not require an internet connection – it is essentially an e-book covering every nutritional topic you could ever want to read about.
Added benefits include the ability to email content or recipes, integrate the app with Facebook, and create shopping lists for users.
A great counterpart to FitnessBuddy, Nutrino claims to be the equivalent of a virtual personal nutritionist.The app creates individualized meal plans based upon your specific needs and goals. It also connects with other fitness apps, builds customized grocery lists, and provides the user with up to date health news.
Daniel Cooper of Engadget explained that the app, while still in Beta (which means for now, it’s free!), has some excellent features already: “Once it’s cooked up a diet for you, it lays it out on a day-by-day basis, letting you mark off each meal that you’ve successfully eaten and giving you a score out of 100. Each meal has a recipe section, and best of all, thanks to a partnership with Tesco and ASDA, you can buy a day’s worth of ingredients with just a few presses.”
Admittedly, though, the app users have experienced some slow moments and difficulties, but as programmers work to fine tune this app into perfection, it will definitely be one to keep in your back pocket (literally).
Pact is another app that allows you to turn fitness into a sort of game, but this time it’s a betting game. Within the app, users set how often they will exercise – whether it is in the gym or going for a run – and then bet however much cash on whether or not they achieve that goal. Users that achieve their goals then receive a payout from those that do not. You won’t get rich off of the app by any means, but there is not motivation like fiscal motivation!
“Behavioral economics show that if you tie cash incentives to things that are concrete and easy to achieve like getting to the gym, it’s very effective,” says creator Yifan Zhang, who co-founded the company with Geoff Oberhofer, both of whom graduated in 2010. “People don’t like losing money and it’s one of the strongest motivators, much more than winning money.”
The Fitbit app works with the Fitbit fitness tracker, so it is admittedly a bit more of an investment than any of the others on the list. The app tracks your movement throughout the day and also has a nutrition tracker much like Myfitnesspal. Fitbit provides one additional benefit over other apps – a sleep tracker. If you wear the device when you sleep, the app will show you when you are restless and how often you wake during the night. Combined with the calorie counter and exercise and movement tracker, the Fitbit system is all all-encompassing as it comes!
These are just a taste of all of the nutrition and fitness apps currently on the market – it will take some experimentation to discover which app or program is best for you. Once you’ve found one that works, let your phone do the work for you, and see how easily you can reduce stress regarding health and diet!
Jared Hill is a freelance blogger who specializes in health, technology and sports. Please follow him @JaredHill341