Can Your Phone Keep You Healthy?
We use our smart phones for so much these days: web surfing, music, finances and even controlling TVs and other household electronics. But the biggest new craze in mobile technology is health. If you’re looking to lose weight or get fit, then your phone might be able to help you. How? That’s what we’re here to find out. Can your phone really keep you healthy? Read on…
One of the newest features we’ve seen on big release flagship phones this year has been the advent of fitness based hardware. Samsung are the pioneers in this field, and they launched their S Health fitness programme last year with the Galaxy S4. The newest Galaxy S5, however, comes with a built in heart beat sensor.
You just put your finger on the sensor, located under the camera on the back of the phone, and you’ll get your pulse. That’s a pretty nifty feature, but it doesn’t come into its own until you combine it with the S Health package that Samsung have included on the S5.
From S Health and the heart rate monitor combined you’ll be able to build up fitness records, check your general health and even figure out how many calories you’re burning. Currently, Samsung are the only company to offer a phone with built in heart monitor, but expect to see plenty more of these models being released within the next year or so.
A slightly more mainstream approach to mobile fitness is offered by a range of companies. Samsung, as well as LG and various other firms, both mobile manufacturers and other companies, have begun releasing fitness bands. These are basically bracelets that you wear around your rest which then communicate with your smart phone. These bands can take your pulse, and send that information back to your phone, for example, letting a running app know that you’ve reached your limit. These accessories might be a little expensive, but for serious fitness freaks they’re worth their price. Being able to get a reading without stopping your work out and record information without writing it down are both huge advantages if you’re trying to get or keep fit.
The final way that your phone can help you keep healthy is through a vast range of health and fitness apps. We’ll be getting to some of the best of these in a moment. But whether you’re a beginner or a regular gym goer there are plenty of apps to suit your needs, and there are even apps to support other health related activities such as smoking cessation apps. The benefit of an app is that you won’t be making a huge investment, since you’re unlikely to spend more than a couple of pounds. So, what are some of the best apps on the market? Let’s have a look.
Noom Weight is one of the best diet apps on the market. Sure, it lets you do the regular stuff, logging in your diet information and helping you count calories and make healthy choices. But what makes Noom different is that it has user groups that you can log into to get support from other users. It’s been proven that social support is one of the key factors in making dieting successful, which gives Noom a serious advantage over other dieting apps.
We have to admit that Zombies, Run! is probably our favourite fitness app release of the year, if not ever. In basic terms this is a running app, which records times and distances and gives routes for suitable runs in your area. But it’s also so much more. Plug your headphones in and you’ll listen to a creepy narrative (complete with music) while you’re running, and guess what? Zombies are chasing you. That’s some pretty solid motivation. The further and faster you run the more likely you are to run across health packs or weapons, get to slow though and you might get caught. This is a simple idea done extremely well, and is brilliant for making a boring early morning jog your high spot of the day.
There are plenty of personal trainer apps out there, but Gain Fitness wins points because it’s both extremely complete and easy to use, even for beginners. Simply tell the app what your fitness goals are (don’t worry, you get a list to choose from), and the programme will choose from its selection of more than 1300 exercises to tell you what routines will get you what you need. There are HD videos and step by step voice commands, so you’ll never be at a loss, and you can even plug in what equipment you have so the app can design your work out around that. And of course you can record absolutely everything so you get a fitness log too. For a free app, that’s a lot of stuff all in one place.
MapMyFitness is pretty unique in that it’s one of the few fitness apps we’ve seen that doesn’t depend on you doing one thing. Fitness is obviously a combination of factors, and doesn’t just depend on you going to the gym every day, so MapMyFitness uses GPS to show all fitness activities in your area (swimming pools, tennis courts, tracks, whatever) and then tracks all your exercise in one place. If you want a complete picture of your fitness, and not just one isolated element, MapMyFitness is pretty much the only way to get that right now. Oh, and it logs calories burned, duration, pace and way more for every activity that you do, just let the app know whether you’re swimming or rock climbing…
Finally, another nifty and pretty unique app in the form of Fooducate. We all know that shopping for healthy foods can be a bit of a nightmare, you can end up spending hours reading through ingredient lists. That’s where Fooducate comes in. Simply scan the bar code of a product and Fooducate will tell you not only the calorie count but also nutritional values and whether these are good calories or bad calories. Plus, it will recommend similar products that are healthier. Oh, it tracks your calorie intake and exercise as well. Is there anything that Fooducate can’t do? No matter who you are, this easy to use app is going to make it dead simple to shop for healthy food choices, and all for free.