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Health Apps for the iPhone

iPhone Health Apps

The long awaited Apple app store is here and it has a lot of wonderful things to offer. Since our iPhones are attached to our hips, why not put them to work to improve our health? The app store offers a wide range of free and low cost health apps. Having an iPhone and being curious, I decided to investigate 5 of the most popular health apps downloaded today.  Here they are in no particular order:

Trail Guru (Free) – iTunes link

Description:
Are you a hiker, runner, walker or bicyclist? Well, if you’ve ever wondered how far you went, how fast you were going, what your elevation gain was or just wanted a GPS to automatically plot your route on a map, then this is the app you should download. Not only will it do all that, it will also upload all that information to its website, so that you can compare your stats across different days. As a bonus, both the app and the account on their website are free.

Benefits:

  1. The interface is easy to follow. You just hit START and start moving. You can pause it when you stop, like at a traffic light. That way, only the time actually spent moving will be counted and your average speed will be more accurate.

Drawbacks:

  1. You have to make sure the iPhone stays on and the app stays active, because if it goes to sleep it will stop tracking your information .
  2. This app only works where you have GPS & phone signal. Without the two, of course, it can’t track any information.
  3. The app also drains your battery, so you want to make sure you have your charger if you’re going to be using the phone much afterwards.

Conclusion:
This is a fun app to use and it does a good job of tracking your trip information. It can show you how well you’re doing, enable you to set goals and easily see if you’re meeting or beating them. That can definitely help motivate you to exercise more and more effectively.

Restaurant Nutrition (Free) – iTunes link

Description:
This app is pretty self explanatory. It shows you the nutrition information for popular, chain restaurants such as Arby’s, Carl’s Junior, Chili’s and Chipotle. Right now it tracks twenty-four different restaurants. If it doesn’t track your favorite restaurant, check back later because they’re still adding more.

The app tracks calories, carbohydrates, protein, fat, cholesterol, sodium, vitamins, sugar, and fiber. They also keep a history of what you ate and the nutritional information by date, so that you can keep track  of what you’ve been eating over time.  As a side bonus, it will tell you where the different restaurants are located near you using your GPS and Google maps.

Benefits:

  1. It is good for people who want to keep track of what they are eating.
  2. It helps you to make a healthier choice at the restaurant you’re at and can help you to choose the healthiest place near you to eat at.
  3. It has an easy to use interface.

Drawbacks:

  1. My main problem with this app is that it doesn’t have many non fast food chains. So if you try to stay away from fast food chains it won’t be as useful.
  2. It doesn’t have a nice comparison tool of foods at a restaurant. Or an easy way to show all the restaurants it tracks on a map all at the same time. That would help you to choose the healthiest food at the healthiest place super fast. Of course, that’s way too much to expect from a free app, but it would be very cool if it did that.

Conclusion:
If you eat out at chain restaurants, especially fast food chains, download this app.  With this, you can be armed with the information needed to make the healthiest choices possible. (Hey I’m a realist, I know that at least some of you eat at these places sometimes.) That way, you can be healthier without taking hours to try to research the information in advance.

StepTrakLite (Free) – iTunes link

Description:
This is a very basic app. It basically makes your iPhone a very expensive pedometer with a couple extra features. It tracks the amount of steps you have taken, broken down into walking steps, running steps and total steps. It also tracks the amount of time you spend doing either moderate or vigorous exercise.

Benefits:

  1. The interface is very easy to understand.
  2. It breaks your steps down into walking and running, so you can run it all day and see what your combined steps are between exercise and normal activity.

Drawbacks:

  1. You have to make sure that your iPhone doesn’t go to sleep when you’re moving and the app stays active or it stops counting your steps.
  2. Keeping your iPhone active all the time drains your batteries. So bring your charger with you if you are keeping it running all day long.

Conclusion:
It is good to see how much you are walking so that you can increase your steps with time. If you’re on the go all the time your iPhone battery might drain too fast.  In that case, you might need to get an extra clip-on battery pack for the iPhone or just get a pedometer instead.

MyNetDiary – Online Diet Log (Free) – iTunes link

Description:
This app gives you a convenient place to track your diet and your progress. When you start using the app you need to create an account on their website, which costs between $7-9/month depending on the time frame you sign up for. Once you’re signed up, you enter your height and wight and it gives you your BMI. Then you put in your goal weight and the date you want to achieve that by. The app tells you how much you need to change your calorie consumption/burning by to achieve that.

Then you enter what you eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks as well as the exercise you do during the day. The app has a nice list which shows how many calories you burn doing different  activities, at different intensities for different amounts of time. You can also view a chart that shows your nutrition (past 30 days) and weight for as long as you been using the program.

The app also tracks how much water you drink during the day, your measurements (waist and hips), blood pressure, sleeping hours, body fat percentage, lean muscle mass, vitamins and medicines, etc. You can also take notes on what you want to do, your thoughts,mood and progress. It also shows you what rate you should be losing weight at, based on that day’s activity and food consumption. Remember though, this is just a guideline. Your weight loss will vary with your metabolism.

Benefits:

  1. The interface is very easy to use.
  2. It tracks almost anything you could want it to.

Drawbacks:

  1. BMI is not a great indicator for athletes.
  2. Don’t have every item food wise, but they have a reasonable list.
  3. The monthly fee for having an account is a little steep.

Conclusion:
If you have a really hard time tracking your nutritional and exercise information or aren’t normally motivated to do it, this app makes it very simple and easy to do. Since, it is on your phone, you’ll  have it with you wherever you go.  You just have to decide whether or not it is worth the cost to you.

aSleep ($0.99) – iTunes link

Description:
This is a program that plays ambient sounds in order to relax you and/or help you fall asleep. It has about 50 different sounds and has a timer.

Benefits:

  1. It has some nice soothing sounds, such as rain, forest and beach with seagulls.
  2. The timer is nice, so that you don’t drain your battery while you fall asleep.

Drawbacks:

  1. It has got a lot of bizarre noises that probably won’t help you sleep, such as, ferry fog horn , helicopter, tennis and aliens. So, only a few of those approximately 50 sounds will help soothe you.

Conclusion:
It is a decent program for playing some soothing sounds and you’ll probably enjoy it. For only $0.99 you really can’t go wrong. Is it the best ambient noise app in the iTunes store? I’m not really sure. White Noise is also in the app store and is more popular but after spending $0.99 for this one and it being good enough, I couldn’t see spending $0.99 again for that one as well.

That is just a few of the many health apps available at the iTunes Store that can help make being healthy easier for busy people and maybe a little more fun! Enjoy your iPhone while improving your health.

Comments (6)

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  1. M says:

    I do not have an iphone and have been strongly considering it….some very good incentives to purchase one. NUT, now that the G1 has just been released( well soon) I might have to wait and weigh the options a bit more…nice post!

  2. Sounds really cool! I was thinking about getting an iphone until we got Blackberry Curves from work which are fun too. I don’t think I’m smart enough for two smart phones 😉

  3. I have an iPhone and every couple weeks I look through all the apps to try to find ones that might work for me.

    Thanks for the tips on theses. I think the fast/chain restaurant one will work great for me. We don’t have many healthy food restaurants in Ogden so it is helpful to know what the best choice is.

  4. Great info as always Talli!

    I have the My Net Diary and asleep apps. I have used the asleep app when baby sitting niece/nephews. Works like a charm but I do agree some of the sounds are a little weird!

  5. Ari Benbasat says:

    Talli.

    Many thanks for mentioning StepTrakLite on your blog. We are very happy to hear that you found it useful. Let me just mention two points:
    1) Our app actually prevents the phone from going to sleep, so you don’t need to fiddle with the auto-lock settings.
    2) We do dim the screen to 5% after a minute, which provides some power savings. But you are absolutely right that this is a drain.

    We continue to hope that Apple will allow programs like ours to run in the background and when the phone is nominally asleep. This would both increase the utility and reduce the power consumption.

    Thanks
    ari

  6. Chris says:

    This is a great list to start with. I’m putting together a series of posts related to iPhone apps and weight loss/excercise. Thought I’d share, hope you enjoy: http://www.addic.tv/2009/01/01/addictv-roundup-apps-to-help-you-lose-weight-part-1/

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