Mature Woman Exercising on treadmill in the gym and using smartphone fitness app.

Make your smartphone healthier: 11 apps you have to try

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By Sarah Cohen

If you have a smartphone (and we’re willing to bet that you do), you know how convenient it is to have access to dozens of tools at your fingertips. The millions of apps available make it possible for you to book a flight to Greece, reserve a table at your favorite restaurant, play chess, check movie ratings, stalk celebrities, and so much more. There’s a reason people say, “There’s an app for that!”

The same goes for wellness. There’s an app — several, in fact — to help you stay on top of your health. We asked the wellness team at Methodist Health System to share some of their favorite wellness apps. These wellness coaches, dietitians, exercise specialists, nurses, and holistic life coaches have some great ideas for putting your smartphone to good use.

FOR NUTRITION

MyFitnessPal
MyFitnessPal has been around awhile, but that’s because it works. This one-stop wellness shop is ideal for weight loss, helping you keep your calories in check. But on top of that, it makes sure you’re not overdoing (or underdoing) your sugar, protein, and water intake. For the food diary, the selection of grocery store and restaurant items is fantastic, and you can even add your own personal home-cooked recipes to the list. This is meal tracking made easy!

Fooducate
Getting good grades might have been tough in school, but this app makes it easy to get good grades in nutrition. As you’re grocery shopping or meal planning, Fooducate educates you on nutrition by grading your food selections. If you pick a food that gives you a D or F, it will suggest options to help you get straight A’s.

FOR FITNESS

Beachbody On Demand
While our dietitians don’t love the nutrition guidance on this app, they definitely recommend the workouts for their creativity and convenience. Finding time for a trip to the gym (or the money for a gym membership) isn’t always easy. Beachbody lets you take the gym with you. Just enter the type of workout you feel like doing, the intensity, and how long you want to work out.

Fitbit Coach
Our wellness team members are big fans of the Fitbit and similar wellness trackers. This training app offers a variety of professional workouts that you can track from your Fitbit device. (P.S. The regular FitBit app has tons of great features, too, including trackers for menstrual cycles and fertility.)

Workout Trainer by Skimble
This app helps create a fitness schedule around your goals. Whether you want to lose weight, improve your flexibility, or strengthen your core, these short, dynamic workouts will get you there. If you prefer one trainer’s style over another, the app lets you access all of their workouts. Past workouts are kept in your “My Workouts” section, giving you a sense of accomplishment to see all the work you’ve put in.

Strava
The runners on our wellness team love this app. It not only tracks your distance, elevation, miles per hour, and calorie burn, but it also maps your route and shows you how you performed for each leg of the run. Plus, this app offers one of the greatest motivations: competition. In virtual groups, you can compete against other runners for best time or longest distance for prizes. (If you’re not a runner, the app also tracks several other aerobic exercises.)

FOR STRESS RELIEF

Calm
Calm was the 2017 Apple App of the Year, and it’s perfect for relaxation, sleep, and meditation. It sends you reminders throughout the day to take a deep breath and offers soothing background noise options such as a crackling fire, a soft rainfall, or light music. Plus, who doesn’t love a bedtime story? The app offers Sleep Stories for kids of all ages (aka grown adults) to help settle down for the night.

Insight Timer
Meditation is known to reduce stress, control anxiety, improve hearth health, and contribute to several other areas of wellness. This app leads you through guided meditations as short as one minute, just to give you that little break you need.

A COUPLE EXTRAS

Drink Water Aquarium
You’re supposed to drink eight glasses of water a day — probably more in the Texas heat! But it’s easy to forget to sip up the good stuff. This app makes sure you’re getting the right amount of water each day by sending reminders and letting you track your intake — with a fun aquatic design.

Stool Log Lite
If you’ve ever suffered from constipation or other digestive issues, you know an app like this could come in handy! Bowel movements — when they happen, what they look like, etc. — reveal a lot about what’s going on with your body. If you’re noticing strange things with your digestive system, this app might help you gather some data to bring to your doctor’s attention.

Speaking of doctors, let your healthcare providers know which apps you’re using for your wellness. Some apps actually let you share your results so they can see your progress or hold you accountable. And in some cases, a doctor may want you to steer clear of a certain type of exercise or make adjustments to your diet that an app won’t account for. Staying in touch will make sure a wellness app is helping, not harming, your health.

ONE MORE APP TO KNOW ABOUT

MyChart is an easy app to help you keep track of test results, doctor appointments, and medications. You can message your physician’s office directly with any questions, request medication refills, and pay your bills. The app is secure and makes it easy to manage your healthcare. Learn more and request a MyChart account here.

About the author

Author Sarah Cohen is publications project manager at Methodist Health System.Sarah Cohen is publications project manager at Methodist Health System. She came to Dallas in 2011 by way of Munich, Germany, and Walla Walla, Washington (yes, it’s a real place), but Indiana will always be home. Inside the office, she’s absorbed with Shine magazine, internal communications, and the perfectly placed comma. Outside the office, you’ll find her on a tennis court, with her church youth group, watching Butler University basketball, or at the airport — getting ready to fly north to see her adorable nephews.

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