Updated: Mar 16, 2019
What a time to be alive. We walk around with what would have been considered a super computer a few years ago, in our pocket. It unlocks just by seeing our face or reading our fingerprint and by pressing a certain sequence of buttons we can expect food to arrive at our door in minutes. Amazing.
Despite the amazing potential of these tiny computers, most of the time spent on our smart phones is on social media apps. Recent studies have shown links between excessive social media use and an increase in unhealthy behaviours, drops in mood and negative impacts on our mental health. So today I want to talk about a few apps that can have a positive impact on our health, in particular the ones I am using right now.
The progression of health related technology in recent years is mostly being driven by a quest for more information about ourselves, with the hope it will make better choices easier to make each day. With so much information at our fingertips, it can be difficult to understand what to make of it all- which is why I feel as though the best way to go about using them is to treat it like an experiment for yourself. Some experiments uncover information you never considered before that can change the way you make decisions, others fail and that's ok too.
Like with anything, some of these health related apps work better than others, and since I've found myself discussing some different options recently I though I'd share the few that I've put to the test recently. I've had a bit of a revolving door of different apps over the last few years, experimenting with each one for a while before deciding whether it was for me or not, below is the five I am currently using.
5). My Water
'My Water' is the most recent addition thanks to Rebecca, one of our Legacy members, and one of my favourites already. A free app that sets a target for how much water you should aim for each day and then keeps you accountable with quick reminders on your way to your target.
Personally I need to be having a minimum of 3.1L per day to support my existence and not feel terrible, so far this app has been spot on with keeping me accountable to it. You can also add other drinks like your morning coffee or tea and it will keep a tally for you as you go- there is a premium version that has more drinks preset in but I'm not so sure it's necessary to spend money on that. Highly recommend the free version so far.
Knowledge is power, and when it comes to trying to gain or lose weight it certainly helps to have a more accurate view of what our intake from food and drink is. Recent studies has shown that the majority of us hugely underestimate how many calories we are consuming each day, making these tracking apps even more valuable tools for us. You'll get a better idea of how many calories you want to be consuming and a macronutrient breakdown which we can start with too. I traditionally don't use food tracking apps but I've enjoyed this one so far. I've found it simpler to use than MyFitnessPal and have been able to be consistent with looking at what I'm really putting in to my body each day. My main issue with MyFitnessPal was that I'd get annoyed fiddling around with options for too long and that there were so many conflicting numbers for the same item of food which made things a little confusing-so far so good with cronometer but it is still early days.
Wearable tracking technology has come a long way in the last few years and Myzone has consistently been a top performer in the gym scene. Heart rate monitors are the only tool we can use to see what is really going on inside you in real time during exercise, without being at all invasive. I wear my belt during my workouts to keep myself accountable in terms of establishing proper work-rest periods to get the most from a workout. Being able to either look up in at the monitor in the gym or down at my phone and see a real time reading of what my heart is doing is pretty insane. I've found this particularly useful for individualising rest periods from person to person based on fitness levels rather than standard protocols which can be arbitrary for some. If you don't already have some sort of heart rate monitoring device I would highly recommend you spend some time looking in to it today.
2). Smiling Mind
Ask anyone around you how their day is going and you're likely to get the reply, "busy!". I'm actively trying to avoid saying this because let's be honest, we're all busy, all of the time. With fewer and fewer opportunities to truly rest and do nothing throughout the day, week, month, year, I have found that returning to some guided meditations and practicing mindfulness is helping deal with daily stress far better than usual. Other apps such as 'Sway', 'Calm' and 'Headspace' provide similar services, but I'm enjoying SmilingMind so far.
This one is the most exciting for me. I've toyed with online programming apps before and I think I've settled on this one. Formerly known as Fitbot, TrueCoach is a platform for coaches and trainers to use to provide extra value and support. It has allowed me to curate my programs and add extra cues, videos and tracking so that there are almost no barriers to following a program properly. In previous versions of these apps I found them to be too confusing and clunky in the way that not much could be customised-essentially defeating the purpose of writing an individualised program in my style. So far I'm loving this one and have been using it for my own training to track workloads and goals. In the next week I will be opening up the floor for more opportunities to join my TrueCoach group so that you can follow a program made for you, so keep your eyes peeled and give us a shout if this sounds like it would suit you.
Bonus App: Screen Time
One feature of my iphone that I still count as an app is the screen time feature in the settings. You can see reports on exactly how much time you are spending on particular apps and can even set rules for yourself, such as only allocating a max of 10 minutes on any social media app before the timer ends and you are locked out of it. As I mentioned earlier, curbing extended social media use could do wonders for us. Whoever thought of that feature truly deserves a promotion because on top of this my productivity has been given a right kick up the butt. I didn't realise how easily I was being sucked in to an endless scroll not looking for anything in particular. I highly recommend checking this one out and setting some rules for your social media use.
Something missing from the arsenal at the moment would be some sort of sleep tracker, I am yet to try one properly for myself but have spoken with many people who swear by them. Going off current trends I feel as though there will be advances in the way we track sleep as well as HRV monitors which will become very popular soon. For now I'm happy with experimenting with these five (or six) and seeing what it does for me.
Do you use any apps that I haven't mentioned that make a difference to your health? Let me know about them! Also, if you're wanting to get on board with some online coaching and programming, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you and invite to TrueCoach to get started!