There are so many health and fitness apps available today that it can be hard to make sense of the noise and determine which ones might actually make a difference.
Wellness is not one-size-fits-all but I rounded up my favorite digital tools for healthy living for anyone who isn’t sure where to start. I stopped by New Day NW to share my recommendations on a special “Wellness Wednesday” episode.
Watch the video here and continue reading for 6 of my favorite apps to help you stay fit, sleep better, and improve your mental health.
New to running? Feeling a little intimidated? This app is for you. Couch to 5k is designed to help running newbies slowly build up their strength and endurance, so they can eventually run the 3.1 miles of a 5k. Over eight weeks, an audio coach guides you from mostly walking to mostly running. Couch to 5k syncs with most music apps for those who like to work out with tunes.
Strava is for the slightly more experienced athlete. It provides detailed stats on any distance-based workout — running, hiking, cycling, even swimming if you’re willing to gamble on a waterproof phone case. Strava is also a social network that connects users with their friends. To “post” you complete an activity so, unsurprisingly, there’s a bit of a competitive element.
Fitness apps are all well and good but they far outpace tech tools designed to improve our mental health. Enter Happify, an app that helps you work toward your mental wellness goals through simple games and activities. Happify has different tracks for different goals, like reducing anxiety at work or living in the moment more. The psychology-based exercises are simple and can be done anywhere. Why not use dead time waiting in line at the bank or in the dentist’s waiting room to work on your mental well-being?
This app is for those of us who are addicted to the snooze button. Sleep Cycle uses your phone’s microphone to monitor your breathing overnight. It analyzes breath to determine when you’re in periods of deep and light sleep, providing insights that can help you improve your sleeping habits. The alarm function allows you to set a 30-minute window to wake up. Sleep Cycle then waits until you’re in the lightest sleep during that time period and sets of the alarm then. The idea is you don’t get jolted out of deep sleep when it’s time to get up.
Now that you’ve downloaded all of these wellness apps, how can you keep track of the data without gluing your phone to your hand? That’s where Apple Health comes in. The app comes with all iOS devices and aggregates data from a wide range of other third-party wellness apps. Apple Health also tracks four key categories: Activity, Nutrition, Sleep, and Mindfulness. Think of it as a hub to keep your digital wellness tools organized.
Each of the apps we’ve discussed so far is geared toward individuals. Limeade, on the other hand, is a service for companies to encourage their employees to be healthy. The software helps employers incentivize their workers to meet fitness goals through discounts on health plans and other rewards. Limeade develops semi-custom tools for employers so they can encourage preventative wellness and reduce healthcare costs down the line.