In Pictures: 10 mobile apps that promote health and wellness
If you're one of the growing number of people who carries a smartphone everywhere, why not take advantage of mobile apps that can help you organize your medical history, eat right, exercise or fall asleep at night?
Smartphones are becoming ubiquitous—so much so that people will turn right around if they leave home without them. The surge in smartphone use has spawned a massive market for mobile applications that include games, maps and even business tools. A growing number of health and wellness apps aim to empower smartphone users to change their behaviors and to manage their own health conditions. Let's take a look at some of these mobile apps that can help you transform your lifestyle in a healthy, positive way.
About the author: Dr. Joseph Kim is the president of MCM Education, a publishing company that provides continuing education for physicians, nurses and pharmacists, and the founder of MedicineandTechnology.com, MedicalSmartphones.com and MobileHealthComputing.com.
Most of us carry smartphones in our pocket or on our belt. Why not use the built-in accelerometer or the GPS to transform your mobile phone into a pedometer that tracks how far you walk? Your goal should be to walk 10,000 steps each day—regular exercise can lead to weight loss, reduced blood pressure, improvements in your cholesterol and other positive health changes. Start quantifying your level of activity by using your smartphone. Viaden Gaming offers several pedometer- and GPS-based fitness apps, but Pedometer FREE is the simplest of the bunch.
Compatibility: Android, iOS
Endomondo Sports Tracker
Endomondo Sports Tracker uses the built-in GPS in your smartphone and integrates your physical activity with Google Maps. You can share your progress online and even compete against people in your area. The app will also integrate with a variety of heart rate monitor systems and certain bicycling cadence sensors. The Pro version ($3.99) lets you set workout goals based on elapsed time, calories burned or the results of a previous workout; it also lets you create interval workouts.
Price: Free; paid version is $3.99
Compatibility: Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone
Care to learn a new exercise? It's important to use proper form so that you minimize the risk of injury when you try something new. Diversify your workout by learning a new exercise each week and discovering new muscles in your body. Fitness Buddy from oneAppOneCause comes in a free version with more than 300 exercises and a paid version ($.99) with more than 1,700 exercises as well as an exercise workout journal to keep track of your progress.
Price: Free; paid version is $.99
White Noise Lite
Sometimes, you simply need some white noise to drown out distracting sounds so that you can relax. Whether you are traveling or simply need background white noise at home, the White Noise Lite app from TMSOFT will give you the white noise you need. Use the speakers on your mobile device to share the white noise with others, or put on headphones for some privacy and make time to relax. This app may also help you if you find yourself having trouble falling asleep or waking up frequently due to sound distractions. The paid version, White Noise, offers additional sounds.
Price: Free; paid version is $1.99
Compatibility: Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Nokia, Palm, Windows Phone
Many mobile apps can help measure how many calories you eat each day. They all require some type of manual data entry, so you need to use these apps religiously to track your information accurately. Popular apps include the following:
• Calorie Counter by FatSecret. Price: Free. Compatibility: Android, BlackBerry, iOS.
• Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal. Price: Free. Compatibility: Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone.
• Lose It! by FitNow. Price: Free. Compatibility: Android and iOS.
• MyPlate by LIVESTRONG.COM. Price: $2.99. Compatibility: BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone.
• Tap & Track Calorie Counter by Nanobit Software. Price: $3.99. Compatibility: iOS.
Many of the other apps showcased in this slideshow also include built-in calorie counting features.
What if you could snap a photo of your meal and automatically knew how many calories of food were on your plate? That's what the Meal Snap mobile app does. Could food tracking get any easier? (I suppose you could have someone else enter all the data for you.) With this app, you can share what you are eating to build a network of social accountability—maybe someone will call you the next time you snap a photo of a giant ice cream sundae.
Does your stomach hurt? What could it be? How about an ear ache? The free WebMD mobile app is a comprehensive health app with features such as a Symptom Checker, which can provide insights about your medical symptoms, or information about first aid that can be useful if you encounter an injury while exercising.
Compatibility: Android, iOS
The next time you travel to a new city for a road race, business trip or any other visit, you can use the free iTriage mobile app by Healthagen to find the nearest hospital or urgent care center. What's more, this app can also tell you the wait times in different emergency rooms so you don't end up going to a crowded hospital. Participating hospital ERs will also let you pre-register your ER visit through this app.
Compatibility: Android, iOS, Palm; coming soon to BlackBerry
Do you have trouble remembering to take your pills? Whether you are taking a daily multivitamin or a medication for the treatment of a chronic condition, pill-reminding apps can help you remember. After all, you can't afford to forget your medications—your life may depend on it. Two pill reminder apps that you may want to try are the Pill Reminder by Drugs.com and RxmindMe Prescription / Medicine Reminder and Pill Tracker by RxmindMe.
Price: Pill Reminder is $0.99; RXmindMe is free
Compatibility: iOS, coming soon to Android
How are you managing your health conditions? Do you have a record of your medical problems, your recent doctor visits, your labs and X-rays or your medical procedures? In order to stay healthy, you must be organized. The My Medical app from Hyrax is a powerful tool that can help you keep all your information in order. You can also use this app to keep track of family members and loved ones, which is helpful for parents and caregivers.