Rachael Zimlich is a freelance writer in Cleveland, Ohio. She writes regularly for Contemporary Pediatrics, Managed Healthcare Executive, and Medical Economics.
Apps aren’t just for mindless time-killing. A slew of apps are available to help you move more, eat better, and sleep deeper.
When embarking on a lifestyle change, the key to success is tracking measurable progress. Technology offers a lot of help in this regard, with an endless supply of apps and programs to help you make your way through a New Year’s resolution.
Couch to 5k
Maybe your goal this year is to run a 5k, but you haven’t even run 5 feet over the holidays. Couch to 5k-the 6th most popular health and fitness app in the Apple App Store-might help make those dreams a reality. Designed to get coach potatoes up and running 3.1 miles within nine weeks, the app allows users to choose four different coaches. Those coaches will motivate users through 20- to 30-minute workouts that are completed three times a week for nine weeks. Designed by fitness trainers, the program offers human audio cues from your chosen coach, playlist integration for music while your work out, distance and pace calculations along with visual graphs for comparison. Users can repeat workouts, track progress, and get online support from real trainers on Active.com. The $2.00 app does not expire after the initial 9-week program.
If a trainer or drill sergeant isn’t motivating enough for you, maybe being chased by zombies is. For those who need a little extra push off the couch, the Zombies, Run! App is a running game where your mission is rebuild a base after a zombie apocalypse but you have to run from mobs of zombies in the process. Combined with music, zombie groans, and an audio narration of your own hero story, Zombies, Run! can be combined with outdoor runs, treadmills workouts, and more. The first four missions in the basic app are free, and a new mission can be unlocked each week. Customized workouts and playlists are available with more than 300 possible story missions in the pro version of the app at a cost of $3.99 per month or $24.99 per year.
Maybe zombie runs or 5ks are a little intense, but you want to work out but don’t know where to start? Maybe you have 10 minutes, or maybe you have an hour, or maybe you just want to move a little in your office after lunch. This app is designed to help users find a workout for every level and time commitment. Sworkit is a free app for the first 30 days, with a paid subscription after that. The app offer six-week goals-based programs for those who want to be “Leaner,” “Fitter,” or “Stronger.” Each of these programs, named after the goal the user wants to reach, offer beginner, intermediate, and advanced plans. The programs include a large database of body weight exercises, meaning workouts can be done without equipment in many cases, and outside of a traditional gym. With a variety of exercises and time options, the app offers a lot of choices for users who need flexibility in their routines. There are guided workout plans, with more than 100 pre-designed workouts involving 300 exercises. Users can customize or build their own workout with human support from real trainers. When your free trial ends, a subscription will cost $29.99 per quarter or $79.99 for the year.
To slow it down even more while still getting your fitness on, try Pocket Yoga. This app offers 27 yoga sessions of various duration and difficulty with voice and visual instruction on poses and positions. More than 200 poses are offered in the app, and a dictionary offers additional descriptions and benefits of each pose. Users can keep a log of the poses they have used and enjoy, s well as a progress tracker. The app can interface with a users playlist, and Siri can even help to initiate the program from the lock or home screen. The app is $2.99, and users can unlock new environment and features as they progress.
Outside of exercise, there’s another element to health and fitness. We’ve all heard that abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym, and DietBet takes eating healthy to a competitive new level. The free app pits you against other users who are looking to lose weight, with each user betting on their own success against a group of others. By the end of each “game,” users who have met their goals win the bet or split the pot with others players who have also reached their goals. According to the designers of the app, 96 percent of players lose weight, and winners average $58 to boot. The app offers two game types-Kickstarter challenges users to lost 4 percent of their weight in four weeks, and Transformer ups the ante to 10 percent weight loss over six months. “Referees” for the app are available, and the app verifies programs with photos, individual reviews of users weigh-ins, and algorithmic auditing.
If betting isn’t your thing or you’re looking for support with a little less pressure, you might need a Fooducation. Fooducate is a free personalized nutrition guide that offers meal trackers and nutrition information for thousands of foods. The app highlights added sugars, additives, fats, and more and assigns personalized nutrition grades to help users make better food choices. The app integrates with Apple’s Health App, and allows users to find out more about their foods by scanning product barcodes. In addition to tracking nutrition content and individual macros, users can track their sleep, mood, hunger levels, exercise, and more. Additional paid upgrades are available for pro and specialized versions of the app which can allow users to customize the program to their needs, including keto diets, diabetic diets, gluten free needs, and even pet diets.
When you’ve exercised, run from zombies, and had enough food scanning and diet betting for the day, Calm can ease you into a healthy and restful sleep. Dubbed the “Happiest App in the World,” and the 2017 App of the Year for Apple, Calm is a collection of guided meditation, sleep stories, breathing programs, and relaxing music. A mindfulness app recommended by top psychologists and mental health experts, the app offers session ranging from three to 25 minutes with programs customized for specific needs from calming anxiety to improving self-esteem, improving focus, or promoting deep sleep. The app is free to download, but has in-app purchases and offers a monthly subscription of $12.99 for full access, an annual subscription of $69.99 per year, or a lifetime subscription of $299.99.