It is good to begin a new year with a fresh outlook—with promises to do better. For many of us, the “doing better” refers to specific health and wellness goals such as losing weight, eating healthier, lowering blood pressure, reducing alcohol consumption, sleeping better and improving memory. But the challenge is how to keep motivated and accomplish those New Year’s resolutions. In addition to the built-in apps on both Android (Fit) and iOS (Health) there are many focused health and wellness apps available that can support you as you accomplish your health goals.
In fact, health and fitness apps grew by more than 330% in a three-year period (ending 2018) according to Flurry Analytics, with most users accessing apps at least two times a week. It’s no surprise that studio and fitness apps saw the highest growth (49%)—and yearly peaks occurred in January and over the summer. According to Statista.com, Fitbit continues to be the most popular fitness and wellness app in the U.S. with 27.4 million users, followed by MyFitnessPal with 19.1 million users. And the Wall Street Journal reported that between 2015 to 2018 more than 2,000 meditation apps launched. But do they work?
Here are some interesting tidbits regarding people specifically using fitness apps—according to a recent study by Stanford University:
- Women set more ambitious goals than men.
- Younger users set more ambitious goals than older users.
- Easier goals are far more likely to be achieved — so start small, and give yourself a win!
It appears that apps can help make your health goals happen – but setting realistic goals may be the key to success. Let’s take a look at some of the top New Year’s health goals and some free or low-cost apps that can help.
I want to…
This high-tech calorie counter nutrition/diet app lets you set a calorie budget and track your numbers based on your food choices. Set a goal or have the app set one based on your personal data. One nifty feature is that you can scan a food item barcode and have the app inform you about the food product’s nutritional info. You also can monitor your physical activity and sync data with other devices, apps, and fitness trackers for seamless activity and biometric tracker, and interact with the LoseIt! Community for additional inspiration and support. (Free with paid premium upgrade).
Billed as a healthy diet toolbox, this convenient resource helps you learn more about the foods you are eating. Scan the barcode on packaged foods to learn health and nutritional values—and receive suggestions on healthier alternatives. (It’s like having your own personal nutritionist on your shopping trip!) Get diet tips and recipes from fellow members. You can personalize the apps so that you can research for dietary goals, i.e., vegetarian, gluten-free, etc. (Free—some personalization features require upgrade to a premium account.)
Drink More Water
With such a great name—it’s gotta work. OK, I will reduce the snark and just say that this hydration tracking app has reminders, fitbit integration, graphs, and more to help keep you hydrated. (Free for iOS and Android)
As previously mentioned, this widely popular app helps you manage your weight, fitness, and nutrition. This virtual one-stop fitness shop that lets users track food, log exercise and steps, and get support. You can input a goal or have the app create personalized goals based on your info—then the app works to keep you on track to get there. (Free with in-app purchasing.)
Get fit and support your favorite charity at the same time! (Over 40 world-class charities receive donations this way including ASPCA, WWF, Wounded Warrior Project, Special Olympics, Feeding America, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.) This is a terrific way to keep motivated. Here’s how it works, the free app uses your phone’s GPS to track your exercise—and then donates money to your selected charity based on each mile you walk, run, or bike. Donated funds come from corporate sponsors. Fundraise alone or as a team! Since 2011, more than $2.75 million dollars have been raised in this creative and healthful way. (Free)
The reality is that so many of us are sleep-deprived and any boost to good sleep health is surely welcome. Sleepcycle is an “intelligent” alarm clock that analyses your sleep and wakes you in your lightest sleep phase (within a 30 minute window). According to Sleepcycle’s worldwide research, the best “sleepers” include Belgium and the Netherlands and worst include Korea and Saudi Arabia. Early to bed countries include South Africa and Costa Rica. Latest to bed countries include Greece and the Russian Federation—I guess they are the party countries? (Free, with paid premium upgrade.)
Quit Bad Habits
This habit tracker is a good way to work toward reducing several types of negative behaviors—alcohol consumption, smoking, caffeine intake, etc. It provides down-to-the-minute counters on your progress, estimates money saved. (Free)
This free app for both Android and iPhone users helps track money and time saved in addition to tracking sobriety. With daily encouragement and “chips” to heighten motivation, plus the ability to add accountability partners and share success stories, this app has a well thought out plan. (The story behind this app is that it was created by a guy in recovery.) This app may be useful for any type of recovery issue. (Free)
Quitting smoking is tough and this handy app is loaded with resources to help. While it tracks success rate, money and time saved as do many of this type of app, it also provides a daily mission to keep focused. A diary feature allows users to discuss and analyze triggers (and share this info with the community), and log and graph cravings. (Free with in-app purchasing for Android and iOS.)
Lower My Blood Pressure
Smart Blood Pressure
This handy app allows you to take readings and track your diastolic pressure, systolic pressure, heart rate and weight and the app will calculate BMI (body mass index) and MAP (mean arterial pressure). See nifty color-coded charts and graphs to understand how your readings fit into the low, high, and healthy ranges. (Free with in-app purchasing.)
Relax or Improve My Mood
How about a mobile meditation resource? Eighty guided meditations available plus mindfulness tools, geared toward elevating relaxation and peace. Choose type and length of meditation, even site-specific options. ($2.99)
Here’s a free meditation app that offers hundreds of mediation organized by “goal”, i.e., workplace—with most in the 5- to 15-minute range. It even offers programs for educators and kids and teens (developed with the help of psychologists and health pros). (Free)
Feeling meh? This app may be for you! Developed by a gamer and Ted talker, it takes you through a series of point-driven activities that help build resilience, reduce anxiety and depression, and boost positive thoughts. Go ahead—be your own superhero with a secret identity and all. (Free)
Good on You
Ethical shopping can be hard. This free app makes it a bit easier to make better purchasing decisions based on your principles. Type in a brand or type of garment and find out a rating of the item and summary of the company’s ethics. (If a brand chooses to withhold information about its practices, it automatically gets a lower score.) (Free)
This app turns sustainable living into a game—allowing you to earn points for everyday tasks. It rewards you for reducing your carbon footprint—and is a great learning experience. Small changes have can be significant to the world-at-large. (This would be a great team-building experience!) (Free)
Sharpen My Mind
No matter what health goals you have in mind, yes—there is an app for that! According to the Business of Apps, app users could download between 2.6 million Android and 2.2 million IOS apps as of the first quarter of 2019. Whew—that’s a lot of ways to continue to keep us hooked to our phones. So choose your app wisely—and it may just be the ticket to boost your health and wellness. But remember, the app is there to support you, ultimately it’s up to you to make the changes you want and to unlock your full potential.